We’ve all heard the statement “practice makes perfect”. This is of course a silly statement because no one is ever going to achieve perfection no matter how hard they practice. But it is also incorrect because it doesn’t take into account the effectiveness of your practice. Practicing for hours on end does not necessarily mean you are going to get better if the work you are doing is not correct or is half-hearted. Here is an example I read recently that may help you understand a little better what I am trying to say:
Consider the activity of two basketball players practicing free throws for one hour. Player A shoots 200 practice shots, Player B shoots 50. The Player B retrieves his own shots, dribbles leisurely and takes several breaks to talk to friends. Player A has a colleague who retrieves the ball after each attempt. The colleague keeps a record of shots made. If the shot is missed the colleague records whether the miss was short, long, left or right and the shooter reviews the results after every 10 minutes of practice. To characterize their hour of practice as equal would hardly be accurate. Assuming this is typical of their practice routine and they are equally skilled at the start, which would you predict would be the better shooter after only 100 hours of practice?
Both players are practicing, but one player is being far more effective than the other. This player is going to achieve much better results than the other.
I prefer the statement “practice makes predictable”. When the pressure is on (during a game, for example), you are going to fall back on your practice to get you through. If you have been half-hearted and inconsistent in your practice, you will not be able to stand up to the pressure. However if you have been dedicated and deliberate in your practice, your conditioning will kick in and you will be successful.
This can be applied to horses as well. When you ride, do you have precise goals and are you deliberate about how you achieve them? Do you work hard and take the time to do it right or do you take short cuts and settle for less than your absolute best? Do you make the most of your time? Do you have a clear plan and work hard the entire time you are riding? Or do you wander around aimlessly and take lots of breaks? Do you stand around chatting or do you actually get to work and ride your horse? Do you try new things? Do you challenge yourself and push your limits? It’s easy to talk about wanting to improve, but when it comes down to it what are you actually doing to improve?
Now I’m not saying that every time you ride you need to be working. Of course it is good to take time to just enjoy being with your horse and have fun. But if you want your riding to improve, you need to be willing to put some real effort into it. You need to be deliberate in your work with your horse. Set clear goals. Push yourself to achieve them. Even better, find someone to work with you. Together you can push each other to reach new goals and keep each other honest in your work. Too many people settle for where they are in life because they are not willing to put in the effort it takes to become better. My challenge for you is to push your limits each and every day. Continue to learn and to grow and don’t ever settle for where you are because you can always improve on something! Nobody is perfect, but everybody can do the best that they can.
Be deliberate in your riding and deliberate in life. You might be surprised at the difference it makes. No one will ever be perfect, but everyone can achieve excellence.
Not sure how to start? Contact me! I’d love to help you get started on the path to becoming the best rider you can be!
To learn more about how to achieve a better relationship with your horse, visit our website or blog, where we feature information about French Classical Dressage training, as well as care and maintenance of the horse!