When you cannot show learn to enjoy the process – By Amy Collinson

When you cannot show learn to enjoy the process - By Amy Collinson

When you cannot show learn to enjoy the process – By Amy Collinson

January and February, I stayed at Haras du Ry and continued training with Julie Ulrich. I have had a huge paradigm shift in my learning. Reflecting back, it is amazing how much was missing and how much I was guessing! There is always something to learn in this sport. At the moment I am enjoying my day to day home riding more than ever.


Here is my new perspective around “seeing a stride”. Seeing the stride/distance is so much more than “having a good eye” I now see it as a puzzle with many different skills to piece together. Think the way to train yourself to see a distance needs to be broken down and thought about as you would with your riding position as there are many different points to work on which need to become automatic. It seems like such a basic idea but I never thought about seeing a stride as something that takes so many little skills. I now realize that aimlessly cantering towards poles or small jumps “training your eye” is not specific enough to truly understand this skill.


Inspired from the idea from the karate kid – If you cannot hang up your jacket you are not disciplined enough to ride a horse. If you do not understand where each leg of the horse is underneath you at all gates, you are not ready to jump. Flatwork is actually more useful for seeing the stride than randomly jumping. How can you judge the distance if you are not connected to the horse? – practicing looking for a distance 10 strides out in any type of forward unconnected canter is not going to get you anywhere. There are so many variables that will change the situation, therefore you are always guessing.


You need to get everything else in line so when you do or don’t see it you are prepared. Let the horse work it out. You can start out with trying to predict where three strides away is without interfering. If you are stressing about the distance and overthinking, all the important basics get lost. If you have a good position and the right canter it will not be such a big issue if a difficult distance comes up, as you are in the right state, and can leave the horse to work it out naturally.  Try to learn which canter and take off spot your horse prefers. Let the horse make some of the decisions and get comfortable with that. That will take the pressure off you and allow you to focus your attention on other things. Eventually you might start cantering around a course without even thinking about the distance as it just flows naturally.


I now laugh at myself for all those hours I used to spend cantering around over random poles or small jumps to “train my eye” – what a waste of time, it was far off what they call “perfect practice.” The reason is there was no real method to it, it was purely a guessing game! It is true that you need to learn by trial and error so maybe we are always “guessing.” However, I think it is important to understand where you are at and have the patience to finish off and consolidate each step.


This highlights the problem with result-based goals, you access your progress on whether you made it round the course at a certain height, instead of how you rode it. You start to get ahead of yourself and step up to a higher level before you actually have all the basics in order. These process-based goals come from skills/ ingredients you need to strength yourself as a rider as well as your horse. Once you have broken down the key missing pieces, they need to become your new goals to tick off. You need to have the patience to truly compete each goal step by step.


When you are focused and living for the process it takes away the dramatic highs and lows; Your success is based on your habits and day to day training. You are not putting everything on the line for that one big moment. It gives more meaning to the little things you can enjoy each day. I challenge you to dig deeper, find out what is missing and make more process-based goals.

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