Welcome to the second in this series of Back to Basics rider mindset and confidence skills. We can learn these useful skills at the beginning of a confidence journey but every now and then it’s useful to re-visit them in just the same way that it’s useful to regularly re-visit and reinforce basic riding skills.
What does “Riding in the Moment” mean?
I like to think of this as being truly present when riding and being focused on what is happening right now rather than trying to predict what could happen or dwelling on something that happened in the past.
Learning to ride in the moment helps you to ride more effectively because you let go of the risk of riding defensively due to something that may have happened previously or on trying to prevent the “what-if’s”. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t aware of your next move or on the need to be balanced in the saddle, in order to be able to handle any sudden changes of pace or direction, but you are no longer totally focused on those things so are able to feel more confident and more comfortable in the moment.
So how can you help yourself to be “In the Moment’ when riding?
Before you begin your ride it’s useful to develop a way of leaving other things which are going on in your life to one side so that they don’t interfere with you ability to remain focused on what you want to do. If you are a visual person then imagine putting all of that “stuff” in a bag or a box that you can safely close and put in a safe place. You can then deal with those things at a more appropriate time. If your mind favours words rather than images then you can develop a phrase to repeat to yourself before riding such as “This can wait” or “I’ll think about that later”. If you operate on a kinaesthetic, or feeling, way then try imagining that all the “stuff” has a physical weight that you can put to one side while you ride.
This will set you up nicely for riding in the moment.
Start your ride with a body scan from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Be aware of any areas of physical tension and actively imagine letting that tension go with each out breath. You might like to link/anchor the letting go of tension to a word of your choice (I use the word drift but you can choose your own). Then you can learn to repeat this word whenever you need to remind yourself to let go of tension.
Regularly bring your focus back to what’s going on right now when/if you find your mind wandering. What’s your horse doing at this moment? What does his pace feel like to you? Where are his ears pointing? Are you sitting evenly in the saddle? What is the weight of the reins in your hands?
These are all questions that you can ask yourself which will help you to be more present at any moment as you will be focused far more on “right now” rather than past events or potential future ones.
As always, it’s best to practice these simple techniques when you are riding at home or in an environment of minimal stress so that you become familiar with them and then have tools to use if you find yourself in a more challenging situation.
If you need help with this, with letting go of past events or worrying about the what if’s then please do get in touch for some help and support.
Riding in the moment allows you to be fully present to enjoy moments like this!