|PART 1| How you can change your riding without getting on your horse
The brain is made up of neurological patterns, a highway of nerve connections that form our personality and skills.
Every time we learn a new skill, we form new neurological connections in the brain.
The nerve cells that are activated and work together to perform the new learned skill stick together, so that we can remember that skill and perform it over again—the connections become a neurological pattern.
If you think back to your school days, there are certain things you learned that you can still remember today. That is because you’ve been actively using what you learned over and over again and the nerve cells within your brain have stayed connected.
On the other hand, if you learn a skill and then never use it, after a while the nerve cells will break their pattern and go their separate ways.
When I learned to ride at our local riding school in Germany, the art of the rising trot was a complete mystery to me. I simply couldn’t do it! It took me weeks of riding lessons to finally get a feel for the rhythm and timing and after much persistence, tears and anxiety, I finally got it. Now, due to years of practice, it has become an unconscious movement I could perform even in my sleep, if I had to. My brain cells have formed a very strong pattern.
Around the same age, I also learned to ice skate. When the temperature doesn’t get above – 5 degrees, it doesn’t take long for water to freeze; we could make ice skating rinks near our back door by letting the tap run on a winter’s evening. I remember numerous Christmas holidays spent on a home-made ice skating ring practicing jumps, pirouettes and skating backwards.
Last year, at least twenty-five years since I was on the ice, I foolishly put on inline skates for the first time, thinking it would be easy because it is so similar to ice skates. I was quickly reminded that nerve cells that don’t work together regularly, don’t stay together! The result was a very sore bottom and a bruised ego. After persisting, I eventually did get back into the skating but not before I had to make a real effort to re-remember the feeling and get my brain cells to re-connect.
Just as we form connections when we learn skills, we also form neurological patterns around thoughts and beliefs.
For example, if you tell yourself over and over again that you are an average rider, not good enough to learn and retain new riding skills and therefore you consistently fail at competitions—the brain cells connected to your emotions will get together, have a party and stay connected, making sure you never forget what you think about yourself. As the negative thought pattern continues, you get better and better at remembering until telling yourself at every opportunity that you are average, not good enough and a failure becomes an unconscious habit!
Whenever we have thoughts, our brain produces bio-chemical reactions. The brain releases chemical signals that are transmitted to the body where they act as messengers for the thoughts.
Every thought produces a chemical that is matched by a feeling and as a result, you feel the way you think!
When you feel a certain way, chemicals travel back to the brain, making sure you think matching thoughts. So, now you not only feel the way you think, you also think the way you feel.
If you are more interested in the science behind thoughts and feelings, I recommend the book Evolve your brain by Dr. Joe Dispenza D.C. (Doctor of Chiropractic)
It’s easy to see how we can end up in a cycle of never-ending negative thoughts and feelings that consistently create more of what we don’t want.