HomeExpert AdviceArticleReady, steady, hack: Memories matter

Ready, steady, hack: Memories matter

Posted in Riding Schooling and Training Hacking

Does the thought of hacking put you in a panic, or fast rides seem beyond your capabilities? Sports psychologist Debbie Percy can help

Hacking is as much a part of the horse and rider partnership as strawberries are at Wimbledon. Let’s be honest, we all love it – the freedom, the space, the sense of man and beast being one.

Hacking, there is nothing like it! Except, of course, when the thought of a hack leaves you trembling because your horse likes to demonstrate his near-perfect ability to turn about face and head for home faster than Red Rum.

Everyone can be confident on a hack. It’s a question of putting our minds to work. Remember the saying ‘there isn’t anything we can’t do, if we put our minds to it’? Well, confident hacking is just one of those things. Put your mind to it, and you and your horse can be confident and safe.


Memories matter

We spend a lot of time recalling and remembering events, people, names, faces and experiences. The stronger the memory, the more noticeable its impact on our feelings and body. We can literally recreate how it felt, tasted and smelt.

We can feel the clammy palms or tightness in our chest – our memories can make us smile, laugh, be tearful or feel afraid or angry.

Memories can improve our chances of a confident hack, if we choose which ones we pay attention to. Our minds use the law of attraction, which means you get back what you put out.

Focus on when your horse has made you afraid or anxious and you’re more likely to find yourself in situations that re-create those emotions.

Let’s put this into practice

For a few minutes, stop reading this article and write down at least five short answers to this question (answer it honestly and without censorship).

“When I’m out hacking, I expect ……”

Depending on your prior hacking experiences, you’ll probably ‘see’ some of those experiences on your list. If your hacks often copy the expectations on your list, it is because you are expecting them to happen.

If you believe your horse will spook at a plastic bag then if you see one, you’ll hear yourself say, ‘He’ll never go past that’. You’ll brace and get set for the spook. Your tension tells your horse that he should be worried, he’ll oblige and you’ll say, ‘I knew it’ or get cross!

Tip number one

‘Memories matter’ teaches us to select the good memories – moments where you were relaxed, your horse was calm and you had fun. Create this memory over and over again.

Tip number two

‘Memories matter’ also teaches us to work with the positive memories in detail by replaying them often – the sunlight, the air, the rhythm of the canter, for example.

We can break old habits and form new ones quickly through visualisation. It is safe, doesn’t need expert tuition and can be done almost anywhere.

Make beautiful memories

Confident hacking really is within everyone’s grasp if you make positive choices. You can choose to hang on to the painful, scary memories of a bad hack, re-live them and literally re-live them out hacking, or you can choose new memories of safe, fun, confident hacks. Make these a reality and confident hacking can be yours.

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