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The Power of Focus in Riding Success

I am constantly reminded of the power of focus in riding.

Last week I got a personal best score in the Grand Prix. It was a 60.4%! I know not challenging the likes of Carl Hester, Adelinde Cornelissen and others … yet! But it was an improvement of 2.5% – so have to be happy with that! What I thought was interesting, is when I got up the morning of the test, I didn’t want to ride. Actually, in the test twice I had a voice that said “oh my god – this is so hard, let’s just halt and not to do dressage anymore!”

Now – I know probably not the mot productive thoughts to have in a dressage test, but what was interesting was why was I feeling like that? I was feeling like that because I was exhausted using my brain to hold my focus for that long in the test. When I woke up that morning, it wasn’t – no, I don’t want to ride at all. It was a lovely day – give me a lazy ride on the beach and I would have been raring to go – I didn’t want to ride because I KNEW how much of a challenge it was going to be. I KNEW how much I was going to have to think, and ride, and be and focused and centred and smart and in the zone and perfect… ahhhhhh!!!! I knew that, so I had that feeling towards it.

In the test, I rode it with all the brain power I had at that time. I was thinking over 5 trains of thought:

1. The actual test: ok, next is the half pass, into the halt, rein back.

2. The preparation: ok here comes the half pass, shoulder in, into the corner, keep him up, light, half halt!!!!

3. My commentary of the test: ok the extended trot was good, got to get this half pass, we need a 7 here, ride it, be accurate!

4. My environment: I hear voices of the crowd, the people outside the ring, my own breathing and horses footsteps, constantly tuning it out

5. My ego saying: this is tiring, what’s for dinner? oh my god, are we not even half way through, etc

The test was mainly ridden in 1 and 2 which is good for me. When I focus on what I have to do and how to prepare it the best, I do my best work and so does my horse. I noticed it again yesterday when I was coaching. When I can get my client to focus just on her horse, and her movements with the horse, and how they combine – the work is amazing! But as soon as you go outside of that and let your brain come in with all these other thoughts – you’ve lost it.

You must focus on you and your horse to the exclusion of everything else. As my husband reminds me FOCUS is Finish One Commitment Until Successful.

To Your Success,

Natasha Althoff Signature