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Perfect practice makes perfect Trainer Tips

S by sheryl lynde | horsetrader columnist

kill is not always something innate. It is also a product of actions and inten- sive practice. According to the book

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, research shows that individuals we regard as prodi- gies reached their level of status by amass- ing about 10,000 hours or more of practice. What separates a top performer or competi- tor from another is the amount of work they have committed to develop their ability. If you want to cultivate your talent and

overcome plateaus, you need to take action and develop a technique to strengthen the way you train. The adage “practice makes perfect” isn’t accurate. “Perfect practice makes perfect” is more precise. Targeting areas for improvement while in the saddle will enhance your abilities and take you to new heights. Your ability isn’t controlled by genes; it’s controlled by your dedication to put in the time it takes to achieve your goal. Practice with a purpose to get bet er. Horsemen at the top of their game work substantially harder than everyone else. We are in a hurry to acquire skills, but I can assure you, there is no shortcut. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Get ing Started : Set a goal. Goals are triggered by a connection to

an activity that inspires you to strive to be bet er than your current level of ability. There is always someone bet er than you, so learn from them. Observation is another opportunity to learn while out of the saddle. Scrutinize the movements of your mentor or role model. It’s extremely eff ective to repetitively view pictures or videos of a top professional performing specifi c tasks that you aspire to achieve prior to a practice ses-

Sheryl Lynde gives her view on problem-solving and more

Horsetrader columnist Sheryl Lynde is a John Lyons Certified Trainer who specializes in foundation training, colt-starting and problem-solving. She is based in Temecula.

sion. Really dissect and digest their move- ments, watch their hands, legs, and body position in the saddle. Spend 15 minutes a day engraving the skill on your brain. An episode of 60 Minutes featured tennis coach and author Timothy Gallwey. He had gath- ered together a group of middle aged women who had never played tennis. He gave them all a brief test of their skills and then chose a woman whom he felt showed the least promise. Galwey began hit ing a forehand while the woman watched. He asked her to pay at ention to his stance, how he held the racquet, and the rhythm used in hit ing the ball. Aſt er watching, she began to copy what she saw, and within a short period of time, she was hit ing a decent forehand. And so it begins. The woman had the beginnings of a foundation. You want to watch so closely that you can imagine the feeling of perform- ing at the level you are observing. Progress and improvement is born out of

perfecting small actions over time. It’s not about the big things; it’s all about the lit le things. When you acknowledge and own your mistakes, you can make a game plan. You have to allow yourself to feel uncom- fortable, and at times to feel totally inept. Risk your reputation. Your reputation is merely a perception held by others that you have no control over. A trainer once told me that everyone watching is supporting your success, and if they are not, they aren’t the kind of equestrians that you want to align yourself with. You don’t have to be a competitor to want

to improve your skills. Safety is always a great motivator for both you and your horse. Slow down and get back to the basics. When you feel you have made a mistake, stop. You will get more out of your training if you

You don’t have to be a competitor to want to improve your skills. Safety is always a great motivator for both you and your horse. Slow down and get back to the basics.

make a correction as soon as it is needed. For instance, if you are loping a circle and your horse wants to dive in or driſt out of the circle, it isn’t a one-time occurrence. Your horse will reveal the areas that need work while completing the fi rst circle, so make the correction now. Do not continue loping 20 circles allowing him to driſt in and out, hoping he will set le into a decent circle. If he dives in, make sure it isn’t you that is causing it by dropping your shoulder. Sit square in your saddle, shoulders level, and slightly behind your hips. You should be applying a bit more pressure on your out- side sit bone which allows you to use your legs appropriately. Where are you looking? Are you looking

at the back of his head, or are you looking where you want to go? By pinpointing the areas you want to improve, and making the appropriate corrections, progress is immi- nent. When you ignore your mistakes, you stay at the level you currently are, or slowly digress. Mistakes are a road map to success down the road only if you pay close at ention and learn from them today. Your eff orts will be rewarded. I guarantee –Sheryl


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