- Stop trying to break a bad habit. Instead concentrate on building a new habit. Your brain has difficulty trying to break circuits – habits – yet it can easily adapt to build new circuitry. Spend your time building the habit you want to possess such as a good heel or proper hand position or a deeper seat.
- Expect it to feel strange. When you are accustomed to doing something in one particular way changing that routine will feel awkward at first. This is normal and to be expected. If it feels correct or normal, you are probably not changing the routine enough.
For instance if you are used to getting your heel down by placing your leg too far back, when you bring your heel under your seat you will feel as if you cannot use your leg properly to guide your horse. Guess what? You are right, because your leg is in a different position – the exact thing you wanted to accomplish – yet it feels strange, but only at first. As you practice, you will become more comfortable with the new position and it will become the new normal.
- Teach someone else what you are learning. To establish a deeper understanding for yourself, teach another person. Communicating the skills you are trying to develop to another individual intensifies the learning process for yourself. You will not only have empathy for the other person’s struggles, but watching their struggles may lead you to a better way to accomplish your goals. You will be inspired by teaching another and deal with your own trials with more enthusiasm.
- Give your new skill proper time to develop. Research varies on exactly how long it takes to transform a behavior into a habit, something that you do without thinking, automatically. Regardless of the magic number you choose, all research agrees that time and repetition must be employed to form a habit.
Back to the leg that is behind the seat, start every ride with exercises that force the leg into the correct position. As you progress in your ride, return to the exercise that reminds the leg where it should be. Give yourself 8 weeks to form the new habit. Even after the 8 weeks, do not abandon the exercises that brought the new skill to fruition.
- Envision the complete package with the new skill fully employed. Visualization is an important element in building any new skill. Whether learning to lift weights properly or learning to keep your heel under your seat, you have to imagine how it should look – on you!
Picture yourself riding in the exact position you want to be in before you ride, during your ride and after your ride. Follow the visualization through to the end, where your goals are met and you achieve the desired results, whatever those might be. This process keeps you motivated when the process tries your patience.