Back to Basics 3 – Visualisation (Seeing is Believing)

As a rider your coach may often advise you to visualise what you wish to happen perhaps riding a dressage test or rehearsing a course of jumps. This may sound like a simple instruction but if visualisation is a new skill for you then you may well find it tricky to do.

It may be that your mind doesn’t easily see pictures and works from a more kinaesthetic, or feeling, perspective or maybe using sounds and words.

The following exercise is a useful introduction to developing a very useful new skill and will show you how you can learn to use your senses to create imagery in a positive way. You can then develop this skill in a way that helps you with your riding goals.

Our imagination is a very powerful tool which we can learn to use to help us in all sorts of life areas.  We can learn to use mental imagery or the ability to create or recreate an experience in the mind.

Most of us do this many times each day either consciously or unconsciously.  Think back to an occasion where you have been daydreaming and remember just how vivid the experience was, possibly to the extent that you felt you were right there in that imagined moment.  Then think of a time where you may have experienced anxiety and remember how your imagination ran away with you creating all sorts of unwanted scenarios which compounded your experience of all those unpleasant anxiety sensations to the extent that you believed that what you had imagined would actually happen.

When we are using our imaginations we experience the greatest effect if we involve all of the senses.  So it is much more than “visualisation”, or seeing things, it is hearing, feeling, smelling and perhaps tasting too.  When we create scenes in our minds the stronger and more vivid we make the whole sensory experience then the more powerful the results.

Here are some simple, horse related,  mental imagery ideas to get you in the mood and show you how you can use all of your senses.  Feel and imagine every detail of the following:

  • The colour of your horse’s coat with the sun shining on it.
  • Putting your hand under a horse’s mane on a cold day.
  • The smell of new leather.
  • The soft sound of a horse’s “nicker” as it greets you in the morning.
  • The smell of fresh hay.
  • The smell of a dirty stable (yuk!)
  • The sensation as you ease yourself into the saddle and take up the reins
  • The image of your horse’s ears as they listen to you.
  • The footfall and rhythm of your horse as you walk on a hard surface.
  • The feeling as you dismount after an enjoyable ride.
  • The taste of a Polo Mint that you take for yourself before offering one to your horse.

All of the above are likely to be familiar to riders and easy to recall or imagine using all of your senses.

Playing with these, and other, imagined scenarios is a useful introduction to this new skill and with time you will learn to use your mind to imagine your desired outcome in different situations in a way that will help to set you up for success in real life.

If you would like some help to learn this skill please do get in touch.