‘Collection’ is a term that we use a great deal when we are referring to the quality of the action and movement of our horse. We know exactly when we see that a horse is collected. Collection is when a horse can carry more of its weight on its hindquarters than on the forelegs when ridden. The back will be raised as they engage their stomach muscles. They will be flexing at the poll and will carry themselves with a wonderful lightness. This creates the impulsion that comes from the hindquarters while the horse is travelling and jumping and engages the energy that collection generates. The horse can be more easily directed and can carry a rider with greater comfort and ease. The horse will reach further underneath its body with its hind legs making movement more elegant and much more precise.
As riders, we are very clear about what we require from our horse in terms of collection. So, how ‘collected’ does our horse require us to be? Let’s consider how a rider’s collected mind could make the horses life more comfortable.
When we compete, we spend some time in the ‘collecting ring’, an area set aside for us to warm up our horse and begin to collect the energy that they will require to perform to the best of their ability. It would be of great benefit if we used this space to collect our thinking too, after all, optimum performance must come from both horse and rider.
The best riding technique in the world can become quickly overwritten if we are not fully ‘collected’ in our thinking and our horse is a first hand witness to everything that goes on in our head!
Here are our top 5 tips for collected thinking:
1. Riders must be in the right emotional state to ride. The best state is a state of relaxed alertness which provides a calm yet energised and supple physiology. A rider who is feeling the state of fear or anxiety or even over excitement will pass these emotions to the horse very quickly, causing them to feel uncertain and unable to relax into their task.
2. Riders should be able to hold a clear picture in their mind of the successful completion of their riding effort to come. This internal representation, with its accompanying sounds and feelings will produce the desired behaviour of optimum performance for the rider.
3. Memories of past disastrous rides should be positively learned from and released. The unconscious mind can present past emotional experiences to our conscious mind at any time, so the most productive approach is to release all negative experiences from the past, including those associated with accident and trauma.
4. Memories of success and the production of excellence should be anchored for instantaneous recall on demand.
5. Self-belief is crucial to success and the production of high-performance in any sport. This is particularly true in Equestrian Sport, as the horse will quickly sense lack of belief in the rider, damaging their own natural belief system and affecting their behaviour. Our beliefs are not true, they are simply constructs around which we organise our external behaviour. Limiting beliefs will cause barriers to our success whilst empowering beliefs will cause us to elevate our capability.
Next time you are working your horse towards collection, consider whether you are as collected as you could be and take steps to ensure that you can assist your horse to perform through collected thinking. Experience how you can more easily direct your own energy and reach must deeper inside yourself to produce a richness of capability that explodes with power for success.
We will teach you everything you need to collect your thinking during our inspirational NLP Practitioner Course.