I am talking about the rider, not the horse, when I discuss mental discipline. So often, riders are thinking about everything else in their lives but not their ride or their horse. When we get lazy mentally and tune out or get distracted, our riding becomes sloppy and training suffers. Remember, I really believe that you either train, or un-train a horse every time you ride - whether you intend to or not.
When you ride, you must always be "present", thinking about what you are feeling, where the horse's body is, how he's responding or not responding to your cues. You must be aware of the little things that are going on, not just the major things that are easy to figure out.
When I ride, I am thinking about things such as my horse's rib cage, where the inside leg is tracking, the horse's shoulders and hips. I am thinking about the poll, the jaw, the neck placement, about the whole spine. Really - remember that everything is connected! I am always concerned about the quality of my gaits as well.
I also am always assessing my own riding. Was I soft enough? Quick enough in noticing a horse's reaction or failure to react? I could go on and on with this topic but I guess what I'm trying to convey is that you must be one with your horse at all times and to do that means you need to concentrate and be aware of your horse and yourself, you must be a mentally disciplined rider! See you next week, JD.