Visualization and Intention Setting are two powerful and under utilized tools in our relationship and training of our horses. How many of you have uttered the phrase " I just thought it and he did it" while working with a horse? I bet some of you have.
It is in our mind but we cast it off as a unique incident or that the horse is really trained or super sensitive. Now those factors of course can be in play but what if we worked from this place all the time.
First let's break down Visualization and the different uses for it. I use Visualization in Riding, Training, and other times with my horses. The reason I put the two together is that when you Visualize you are starting to set your Intention. Visualization is when I clearly picture something in my head. It could be a particular movement as small as moving the horses body or leg a certain way, it could be a larger movement of leg yielding, it could be seeing the horse take the canter on the left lead etc. It could also be a calming visualization for me or the horse. I may see the horses posture in a more relaxed shape with the head lower and may mirror breathing calmly to the horse. I may see myself as softening and relaxing my body by visualizing something the triggers that in me. It is only your imagination that is the limit.
When it comes to Intention Setting. This can be a long and short term idea. I may say I want to do a Liberty Piaffe with my horse or I want jump four feet. So I have set my intention. By doing that, if we stay fluid and opened to the path to that goal it will most certainly happen. As soon as I set my intention, if I get out of the way, everything starts to move in that direction. Even training problems seem to fix themselves. Another good place for Intention setting is for a fearful rider. You may say "I want to walk out on the trails with my horse in 3 months and feel safe and calm" This helps you start on a positive path as opposed to this mind set of "I'm afraid to do this, I can't do this". Setting small achievable goals and knowing exactly when to push past yours or your horses comfort zone are keys to moving forward. Even so called backward steps are just reminders of readjusting your intentions or slowing down. If you listen to these little guides you will stay more fluid with yourself and your horse. Mistakes are only road signs to pay attention to. Read them and follow what they say and you'll get back on the path. The next time you go to your horse, try setting your Intention and then Visualizing what it is you want the horse to do. Let me know how it goes in the comments! Also write your Intentions down so you can start working toward them. Below you will see and example of my own Intention setting and Visualization. A long time ago, I never dreamed of riding without a bridle and doing dressage or jumping and then I saw people do it and I said "I can do that" and I saw myself doing it and I did it on a horse that was very difficult to ride it was a testament to what you can accomplish when you use these tools. See my first free ride in an open field I did last week and my first jumping video on only my second attempt at bridless riding in the videos below...