Mindset training: Developing ‘feel’ through a visualisation process *H&H Plus*

Charlie Unwin challenges riders to develop their “feel” through a visualisation process – and explains why practice doesn’t always make perfect

These are, for your mind, what balance, rhythm and accuracy are for your riding:
Fundamental #1 – win the day
Fundamental #2 – create the space
Fundamental #3 – relax into it
Fundamental #4 – train your feel
Fundamental #5 – train your nervesTrain your nerves to respond positively to the intensity of competition

What qualities make great equestrians great? “Natural feel” will come high up on your list. After all, it’s a degree of feel that allows a jockey to control their pace, a showjumper to see a stride and a dressage rider to make tiny corrections before the mistake has even happened.

This is not unique to equestrian sport – or sport overall. Good feel is also important in musicians, surgeons and pilots, to name just a few. So the question is not whether feel is important, but if it can be developed. This is where psychology has the potential to have an effect on the way we learn our craft and develop intuitive skill.