IS YOUR BELIEF IN LUCK HAMPERING YOUR HORSE RIDING PERFORMANCE?

How many of us have said at least once or even more – ‘that my horse jumped great, but for those unlucky 4 faults’ 
Now ask yourself – is it your belief in luck that may actually be hampering your progress? 

Richard continues.
Rich Neale 1

Back in 2010 and I was jumping Little Bea at my local riding club. Having already won the 75cm class we were headed in to the 85cm full of confidence. We had gone clear and got in to the jump off. I was first to go, the bell sounded and I cantered towards the first fence. A couple of strides out disaster struck. One of the arena assistants who was stood near the first jump opened a can of coke. The sharp hiss from the ring pull spooked Bea and she ran out at the jump. We jumped clear after that and finished with an unlucky 4 faults.

This is not an isolated case where bad luck is blamed on something that can be fixed. Although this was a problem on the day for us it could easily be fixed by introducing Bea to these kinds of sounds and letting her get used to them so it would be less likely to cause us problems next time.

We often hear friend’s talk of unlucky jumps being knocked down and them ending the day with another unlucky 4 faults. But in believing in bad luck you could be choosing to ignore a problem that could be easily fixed. The best way to track your performance is to have a show log. If you record your results for each class you ride in a season you can look at your problems from a bigger picture. It might turn out that your unlucky 4 faults are actually something you can work on and improve.

Rich Neale2
If you keep a written record of each jump you have down, run out or stop at, and record its height, type, what surface the arena was, the rein you were on, what the filler was like and if it was part of a combination, then after a few shows where you keep getting those unlucky 4 faults you might discover that you are more likely to knock down a spread jumping off the right rein on grass or maybe the third part of a triple always falls. Once you have worked this out you can then change your training to address this problem.

Rich Neale3



















So at this point you might be thinking “I don't need to do that, I would know if I had a problem fence”. But wait a moment, confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories, will mean that if you believe you were unlucky you will not actually realize those four faults were not bad luck at all, they were actually something you can do something about and fix.

Once you have identified a problem you need to work with your coach to find a solution and then work hard to make sure that the way to score 4 faults does not become a bigger issue. Again, if you are still hanging on to the luck idea in part you might end up believing that that pesky third element of a triple is your bad luck fence but its not, its something you have identified as needing to be fixed.

Progress is about making mistakes and fixing them, it’s not about your belief in luck.
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