Offered by Kim Gieseke, Promenade Horsemanship Academy
To be proficient in a sport one must practice. As I was reflecting on the Promenade students achievements during the county fair horse show, it made me think about the importance of practice. The students who rode 4 to 5 times a week this summer, won several champion and reserve champion placings. But practice goes beyond just putting in the time. Innatural horsemanship there is a phrase about “perfect practice makes perfect.”
How does one strive for “perfect” practice? Visualizing the outcome, being in the moment, mental intention, and assisting the student to know how something should feel, are tools I use to help my students improve. My job as a coach is to be their eyes letting them know when a maneuver is correct and remind them to note what they did and how it felt; or to show them how to do something in a different manner to have more success.
Proper repetition of maneuvers is important in any sport to develop muscle memory, but especially important when you are practicing with a horse. Horses are pattern animals and what you “release” on (the moment you stop) is what the horse learns. When the student isn’t consistent in their communication, the horse will not perform how the student desires. This immediate feedback helps the student to quickly learn the value of being in the moment and striving for doing the best they can in each practice.
“Perfect” practice means to strive to improve every time you practice, even if it is to improve one small movement. Improvement happens in small increments, so every time you practice your sport, don’t just show up, do so with the mindset to work towards those little improvements that will lead to a big result!
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