Training Scars

What are training scars? Something I have come to believe that gets in our way of learning until we can get back to “tabula rasa”, a clean slate. Training scars are created through bad habits and physical biomechanics. To remove them we need to get to tabula rasa by breaking down these scars and starting fresh. Only then can we start to feel the correctness we are all searching for.

Bad habits

This isn’t the stop chewing your nails kind of habit I’m talking about, but the ‘I had no idea I was doing that in the saddle’ kind of habit! As children we are so pliable and easily taught if in the right hands. But what if no one is around to help and you are free as the wind to ride your pony never really understanding the habits that will have to get “undone” before a true riding discipline can be taught. How many of us wish we could have learned properly on a lunge line as a 7-year-old? I know I do. Bad habits can be created through well-intentioned but poor training. Something as simple as having a death grip on that left rein that goes unnoticed one too many times, now creating a bad habit that to you is completely out of your range of awareness aka a training scar. This can create an unsteady foundation making the learning process more challenging.

 Physical Biomechanics

Physical biomechanics is the study of ‘human movement including the interaction between the participant and equipment.’ Understand your own biomechanics. If someone suffers from asymmetry, then this will change the way they can affect the movement of the horse. Some asymmetry is caused by those bad habits covered earlier. Either way, understanding this about yourself can help ease the learning process. You know your body the best, so listen to it. How many times have we heard our trainers tell us something we are doing wrong and in our minds we think “I’m totally not doing that” until we look in the mirror down the long side and notice “OMG! I’m totally doing that thing I thought I wasn’t doing!” Creating more spacial awareness with our bodies in everyday life, even with something as simple as washing dishes, can create more awareness in the saddle. Thus, helping to undo training scars created by the lack of awareness in our own biomechanics.

 Tabula Rasa

The “clean slate”. The “fresh start”. The place where, if we could go back in time and begin our riding journey as a child with access to all the right trainers and no fear. The good news is, we can start with Tabula Rasa, by erasing the training scars. Have you ever had a trainer tell you to not do this or not do that? Yep, they are chipping away at those training scars that at some point in time they got engrained in us. I see a lot of amateurs and professionals alike videoing themselves. This is a great way to get rid of those training scars. Watching ourselves creates awareness and, hence, removes those scars. Only then, when the scar has been removed can we start at Tabula Rasa and our learning then begins. The journey, even greater. Add that together with the bond and deep connection it creates with our horses. Now the strong foundation can be built for that journey.

 Training scars are something that are created through the development of bad habits as a child or new rider, or through our own lack of body awareness and understanding of biomechanics and how it affects the horse. However, there is always a way to get back to Tabula Rasa, a clean slate. Through our own mental awareness and observation of our body via the use of videoing ourselves and understanding why our trainer is fixing bad habits first before the purity of our learning can begin.  Have patience, the horses do. At the end of the day, remember to have fun!

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