Editor’s Note

Practical Horseman - - Contents - Editor

School­ing my horse at night af­ter work, I’m not al­ways the most mo­ti­vated or fo­cused. That’s when bad habits creep into my rid­ing, like round­ing my shoul­ders dur­ing flat­work. When I catch my­self do­ing this, I en­vi­sion Olympic show jumper McLain Ward warm­ing up one of his horses. He has a metic­u­lously cor­rect po­si­tion and sits taller than any other rider I know. With that im­age in my head, I im­me­di­ately bring my shoul­ders back and drop more weight into my stir­rups. That, in turn, makes me think about the rest of my po­si­tion, so I can fix any other is­sues that I’ve let creep in with­out re­al­iz­ing it.

Two of our ex­perts in this is­sue strongly rec­om­mend watch­ing or vi­su­al­iz­ing other riders in ac­tion. Grand prix rider Char­lie Jayne sug­gests that you study videos of riders who are suited to your spe­cific sit­u­a­tion—whose body type is most sim­i­lar to yours and who ex­cel in the ar­eas that you want to im­prove the most (p. 20). For in­stance, as a young rider, Char­lie strug­gled to con­trol his tall frame, so he watched videos of riders like Olympians Ian Mil­lar and Ludger Beer­baum be­cause of their sim­i­lar stature. Of Ian, he says, “I watched over and over again how he moved his body while rid­ing a course, es­pe­cially on take­off.”

Top hunter and eq­ui­tation pro Ge­off Teall talks about how to de­velop a great eye (p. 28). One es­sen­tial build­ing block is con­vinc­ing your­self that it’s pos­si­ble. To do that, he says to ask your­self, “Who do I know who is most clearly an ex­am­ple of a con­fi­dent rider?” With that pic­ture in your mind, the next time you ride, try to im­i­tate that per­son. “You’ll be sur­prised by what a dif­fer­ence this makes,” he says. (Af­ter that, you’ll work to de­velop your sense of line and pace.)

While Char­lie and Ge­off talk about pic­tur­ing riders and try­ing to copy them, our colum­nist Olympic even­ter Jim Wof­ford also refers to im­i­tat­ing good riders, though in a slightly dif­fer­ent con­text (p. 12). Jim talks about the im­por­tance of know­ing and study­ing fa­mous riders who came be­fore you so you can learn from their mis­takes. “Learn­ing to ride takes a long time; it takes a re­ally long time if you do not take ad­van­tage of the mis­takes of oth­ers,” he says. You can do this by watch­ing old videos, read­ing books by great riders or au­dit­ing or tak­ing one of their clin­ics.

Try­ing to em­u­late th­ese riders is such a sim­ple, in­ex­pen­sive way of im­prov­ing your rid­ing. If you try it, let me know how it goes and who you choose as your go-to rider to watch ( prac­ti­cal­horse­man@aim­me­dia.com).

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