Session two of my work with Sommer Christie, Mental Performance Consultant, began where we left of the week before, with the concept of “Preparedness.” I need to feel secure in order to jump with confidence, and we talked about what I could do to prepare myself for the show season and bigger jump schools at home.
One of the things I identified, was practicing over poles in order to become more comfortable with distances. Another, was more work without stirrups to have a stronger, more secure seat.
Sommer let me know that it was not enough to simply have these goals, but that I needed to set them out as specific practice plans and then hold myself accountable with measurable results.
I needed to go into each practice with a plan. For example, each day I could set up an exercise of poles and commit to cantering them 50 times. As I rode, I needed to keep track of how many successful distances I hit and how many misses I had. I also needed to be mindful of what happened when things went right and when things went wrong.
Afterwards, I need to do what’s called a Debriefing. That means I need to write down (this is the important part — you have to write it down in a journal) what parts of my training went really well and why. Then I need to ascertain what parts of my training need to be improved and figure out how. It’s important to recognize what I did well, as well as any mistakes that were made. The object is to recognize and reward successes, and then recognize mistakes in order to learn from them. It’s also important to keep mistakes in context. Mistake = learning opportunity, and not time to pull on a hair shirt. For example, I could write that I missed too many distances because I was off balance, however, I made more distances today than yesterday.
After all the debriefing analysis, comes the action plan. Given what happened in my training session, what are the necessary steps that I need to take in order to improve my performance? Is that more poles? More no-stirrup work? Longe line lessons? Remember, each step must have measurable results (ie. 50 poles gives me X number of good distances and Y number of misses that I can compare to previous sessions.)
So yesterday, I had a lesson and we went over poles, poles, and more poles. Some of the poles were set in a circle, like the face of a clock. The poles were set at 12, 3, 6, and 9 and walked 6 strides between each. I went round and round those damn poles and I got 7 strides, 8 strides, 6 strides — you name it, I got it. Then we bounced over 2 poles set in the corner of the arena. Same kind of result there. Some good rides, but more less than stellar attempts.
Oye veh, I could tell my Debrief was gonna be a long one.