I sometimes wonder if there’s a better and faster way to improve yourself as a dressage rider.
Can you, for example, improve your posture in a faster way? Or improve your seat by simply implementing a few tips?
These questions led to a search about how we learn and how our brain processes information. I was happy to find out there are indeed simple tips you can apply to improve your riding. But before I share these tips, I first want to briefly explain how your brain works when you are riding.
What is going on in your brain?
First of all, there are billions of neurons our brain.
You could say that ‘branches’ grow from these neurons, which we call dendrites. These dendrites grow with new dendrites sprouting from existing dendrites as we learn and develop our skills.
So when you are improving your skills as a rider, dendrites are growing in your brain.
When dendrites of different neurons get close to each other, they can form a bridge between each other. At this point, the neurons are connected and signals can be passed on from one neuron to the other.
How does this relate to you as a rider?
Perhaps you now start to understand how you can give a certain aid or ride a certain exercise. You start to get the aha-moments.
At first, it feels uneasy
We all know that when we start practicing something new, at first it will feel uneasy. It probably won’t really go the way you want it to go or you lose that good feeling you were having.
But the more you practice, the better it will become.
In your brain the following happens. The dendrites, which are growing and forming bridges with other dendrites, are now starting to become thicker. The dendrites are developing a special coating to transfer information faster.
You now start to be able to respond faster when riding and it becomes easier to decide on what aids to give.
If you practice a little bit more, dendrites are forming double connections, which make them even stronger! Now you can process information even faster.
These dendrites will stay around longer and that means that what you’ve practiced has become part of your skill set. You now own that specific skill. You don’t even have to think about it anymore. When you’re giving that specific aid, it happens automatically.