This takes account of where you are in the process of acquiring a new skill. When you embark on learning a new exercise you once again go back to being a beginner. This brings with it unaccustomed awkwardness as you have to consciously think through each component of the aid required to produce shoulder-in, half-pass etc. As you felt you were becoming a proficient rider up to this point it can lead to a valley or plateau in your riding. Some people, once they get past the novice rider stage, don't expect to experience those moments of helplessness again and their progress can be hindered by their own fears of making mistakes. Mistakes are a vital part of the learning process and as long as you can recognise one and make a correction, no harm is done.

Let's say you've reached a valley in your riding and you turn to a new teacher to help you overcome it (a not uncommon occurrence). For a few months everything seems to be working out fine. The new teacher makes some minor adjustments to your posture and your horse improves with them. Then as you begin to start work in new areas of your riding you begin to feel awkward, stiff and natural. You feel you're losing control of your riding and a common result of this is to question the teacher's ability and move to a new teacher.

However, you must realise that with practice a new skill becomes easier, less taxing on brain and body and your horse's response will improve as you do. No-one likes to feel clumsy (or stupid), but it is a fact that the mind and body stiffen when trying to integrate an unaccustomed movement—remember learning to drive a car?!!

Ask yourself if the skill being developed is bringing you closer to your goal? How will it help you in your riding? Is your current expectation of yourself ( or your horse) realistic during this phase of adjustment? What would be a realistic expectation of your performance at this time?

"I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but
I’m not sure you realise that what you heard was not what I meant.”

Progressive Skill Development


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