Decembers issue of In the Stirrups is out and has loads of great reading for us Dressage enthusiasts:
- In the Legends of British Sport, Carl Hester talks about his 25 year career
- My article on Discovering Clarity in Your Thinking, which is an extract from The Crystal System Book and is replicated below for your ease.
- AP McCoy takes up Dressage with Charlotte Dujardin
- Daisy Jackson‘s round up of where she is in her training
- Hans Peter Minderhoud Triumphs in Stockholm.
DISCOVER CLARITY IN YOUR THINKING …
The way you approach your riding is fundamental to the realisation of your dreams. Not only it’s realisation but also whether or not you enjoy the process. Dressage is a thinking sport, riding is about strategy. What is the most valuable aid when riding? The answer is not your legs and it is not your contact and it is not your seat. It is your brain and how quickly you are able to process the huge amount of information you need to ride and perform Dressage and indeed work your body at the same time. You have to be quick and sharp. In a dressage test there are a succession of movements, one after the other, all requiring different thought processes, aids, body movements in which the aim is to do as little as possible.
In the Crystal System book I talk about building a road-map to your ultimate goal and how this is possibly the most influential tool you have for helping get focus and crystallize your thinking. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate all those considerable efforts you are putting in and quickly spot any distractions that can, and so easily do, lead you astray.
Clarity is not something that will arrive in good time if you wait long enough. Unfortunately it is not something bestowed from above. As with everything worth having it takes a little work. Clarity is a decision. Many of us create the opposite of clarity for ourselves. Either you feel clear and focused right now, or you don’t. Clarity is more than just a feeling, it’s an emotion, a vibe, and it is a powerful state of being to experience.
Don’t wait for clarity to come to you. You’re responsible for creating your own clarity from within. To be a ‘mindful rider’ you need to be alert and focused, constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the merits of what you do. A non-thinking rider is mindless, mechanical, sense-less; (as I was!) proof can be found in the rider that stubbornly sticks to one solution, even if it does not appear to be working (as I did!). You need to take steps to increase your awareness; think about why the exercises and skills you need are important; learn why you need to do what it is you are doing; take responsibility for yourself; keep track of your goals; try to be open to different and creative problem solving; be in charge of your own riding destiny.
Sometimes you have to get moving first before clarity can be achieved. You may enjoy more clarity about where you are going, once you are underway. So maybe take a tip or two of mine from my blog at www.likecrystal.com into the arena, have a go, see where it takes you, it may help you begin to think about the bigger picture.
It takes time to develop confidence in your own decision making and problem solving ability for your dressage training, just as it takes time to exercise the muscles of the body so it takes time to exercise the brain. Don’t be too harsh on yourself if you haven’t developed these skills yet, it will come. You will get quicker. The catch 22 comes when you begin to develop your ability to think quicker, only to find that your horse is still one step ahead. That happens as your training progresses they will always keep pushing your boundaries, enjoy the ride, it’s very rewarding.
The Crystal System book is a highly motivational, at times humorous method of self-analysis that will add structure to your dressage training. Written in an easy and understandable style, you will have many ‘Eureka Moments!” as you discover that your humungous efforts have been hindering you and there’s a simpler way to reach your dressage dream.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster