A while back, I did a personal performance clinic in Florida at an English barn. They invited me to ride one of their jumpers over some low jumps at the end of the day. FUN!
In the clinic, I discussed the importance of keeping our eyes up. I coached the riders to do the same.
This is a critical technical skill for all disciplines, and from my perspective as a Performance Coach, keeping our eyes up builds confidence and helps maintain it throughout our ride.
So now I’m on a jumping horse. I started down the line to go over a set of crossbars and – whoa! – I went right around the outside of them! My eyes weren’t up and looking where I needed to go. Obviously, I didn’t feel confident. I didn’t look past the jump or go down the middle of it!
We had a good chuckle out of that one.
We all KNOW we need to keep our eyes up when we ride. Our horses follow our eyes, and we stay focused – but – we tend to drop our eyes constantly.
We can help ourselves keep our eyes up by consistently coaching ourselves to keep looking where we want to go. And then we do!
This works because when we continually look where we’re going, our body moves in specific ways. The horse feels these subtle changes through our seat and legs and responds accordingly.
The other reason is a little less tangible – it’s as if our horse gets an invisible message like a laser beam from our eyes to their brain!
From a personal performance point of view, keeping your eyes up calls up and sustains a feeling of calm and focus.
What huge multiple wins when you keep your eyes looking in the direction you intend to go. You direct your horse’s movement almost effortlessly – and – you feel confident and focused on the inside.
But as I said before, we ALL tend to look down. It feels more ‘natural. However, if you commit to coaching yourself to keep your eyes up and focus ahead to where you’re going, you will have a powerful impact on your confidence, and your horse will be more responsive.
Have fun and feel good communicating with your horses with your eyes.