Your confident XC plan!

Posted in Cross Country

Riding confidently across country and over fences is not an easy thing to master. In this feature Sarah Finikin shares some out-of-the-saddle visualisation techniques to help riders use their imagination and build confidence in the saddle...


1 When using your imagination you must be in a quiet place, relaxed and preferably lying down – on your bed or the sofa at home is perfect. If you are not relaxed whilst imagining riding, you will not be relaxed when you actually ride.

2 Close your eyes and imagine the scene. For 
the best results, try to use all your senses – what you see (for example the jump ahead of you, the rest of the field you’re riding through), what you hear (the sound of your pony’s hooves, the wind as you canter along), and what you feel (the feel of the reins in your hands, the weight of your feet in your stirrups).

3 Use as much detail as you possibly can for the exercise to be most effective. For example, as you imagine riding towards a fence with confidence this is what you could think through in your head:

“I can see the jump straight ahead of me with the grassy fields all around. I am focusing straight ahead of me as if I were riding through a tunnel so that my pony has no option but to go straight over the jump. I can feel the weight of my feet in my stirrups, my heels are down and I am using my legs really positively to ride my pony forward. I am sitting in a really secure position and I can hear the sound of my pony’s hooves across the grass as I canter towards the jump. As my pony takes off, I am in a balanced position, I feel my pony clear the fence easily and it feels amazing! As my pony lands from the jump I pat him and I hear myself saying ‘good boy’. I feel a big smile across my face and feel really happy, confident and pleased with myself”.

4 When you are rehearsing your riding in your head remember to imagine looking through your own eyes. This is called being associated.

5 If, when you imagine riding towards the jump, your pony does something naughty, or you aren’t riding as confidently as you know you can, you need to stop and re-wind the video in your head and keep repeating that particular section until it goes exactly as you want it to.


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This Esme riding journal
PONY Magazine December 2020

December 2020

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