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slc2
Sep. 23, 2009, 06:08 PM
Anyone else find that they need 'brain time', even off the horse, to absorb their lessons? We were talking about this last night, the idea that to absorb something in a lesson, we need some time to think about it, maybe that process isn't even always entirely something one is aware of or focusing on.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 23, 2009, 07:04 PM
no. just need the physical practice.

kdow
Sep. 23, 2009, 07:21 PM
Anyone else find that they need 'brain time', even off the horse, to absorb their lessons? We were talking about this last night, the idea that to absorb something in a lesson, we need some time to think about it, maybe that process isn't even always entirely something one is aware of or focusing on.

There's a lot of evidence that learning takes place after an activity as well as during it, particularly while you sleep. So it's not at all surprising that allowing some time for your brain to go over things might be really productive.

When I was taking lessons regularly, after a challenging lesson with an element that had gone really well, before bed I would often try to go over the *good* part in my head - what it felt like, what I did, etc. That definitely seemed to help get things to 'settle'.

meupatdoes
Sep. 23, 2009, 08:02 PM
I find that even taking 5 quick seconds to picture a piece of a movement in my head before attempting it DURING a lesson helps it go well. An old trainer of mine once explained that riding is like a flow chart: there are the boxes, and the lines between the boxes. The better the rider, the shorter the lines between the boxes.

I find if I picture myself attempting what the instructor has just explained in slow motion once (a....b....c............d), and then a few more times, quicker each time, my brain already has the path of the flow chart mapped out and I am much more successful in real time without making the poor horse five times as tired.

By now it is automatic; if I am planning to ride a 10 meter circle at B into a shoulder-in to M and my instructor has imparted some advice on the last one over at E, I have initiated it two or three times in my head with the new advice 'installed' already in between F and B.

Equibrit
Sep. 23, 2009, 08:11 PM
Sometimes it pays to take your brain out of the equation and just allow your body to react.

merrygoround
Sep. 23, 2009, 08:21 PM
Unfortunately, in order for the body to react properly, enough correct brain time needs to occur.

Some call it "muscle memory", others just trained reactions. When you need to ease from canter to counter canter without a hiccough because some idiot just invaded your line, it can only be done easily if it has already been done quite a few times.. ;)

vbunny
Sep. 23, 2009, 08:23 PM
Yup, lots of time I will go home, think about something and come back with a clearere idea the next day.

Pony Fixer
Sep. 23, 2009, 10:18 PM
I frequently do not "get" something new during the ride. My life is such that I often don't have time to actively reflect and think later that evening, but I do find that the next day "poof" it's there. I must subconsciously process things over time.

My overall riding has skyrocketed with 3 things the last 3 years:

1) starting from scratch on the longe after having a baby
2) competing for 2 years at (some) 2nd, 3rd, (some) 4th until the tests were practically rote--reading the test comments, fixing the holes, lather, rinse, repeat
3) taking 2-4 lessons per week, every week, plus "on my own rides"

I think the consistency implied with #2 and #3, has gotten my brain (and the body) to process regularly without too much "down time" in between.

stecia
Sep. 23, 2009, 10:24 PM
Practice may make perfect but the human brain requires processing time between new experiences for learning to occur. Particularly, SLEEP is crucial to the brain's ability to secure memory and integrate new experiences into the existing framework. Muscle recovery and growth are also dependent on the duration and quality of sleep.

Unfortunately, who sleeps well? For those of us that embrace the philosophy of "better living through chemical means", you gotta love ambien.

Equibrit
Sep. 23, 2009, 10:28 PM
Unfortunately, in order for the body to react properly, enough correct brain time needs to occur.


I don't think that's true for all people.

Penthilisea
Sep. 23, 2009, 11:48 PM
Yes! I can listen and respond during a lesson, but in order to really learn something in a repeatable way, I need to consider it. Usually this happens when I am in my car, driving to or from work. I need to break down what I need to do, when, what the ideal responce from my horse is, as well as what common issues I will experience with my horses quirks, and how to handle them, Visualizing in this way actually seems to improve my body memory, even if I only got to do the exercise or movement once or twice, if I think it through, the next time I ride it much better then when I just drill an exercise. But I know not everyone learns this way, to each their own!:cool:

Petstorejunkie
Sep. 23, 2009, 11:50 PM
I have to agree slc; in my experience it has not been conscious thought though. I trained 4-5 days a week with my trainer for the better part of a year. We progressed nicely. Her real job has occupied her since May and i have found that alone i have been forced to use what i have been taught. Both my horse and I have moved up a level in our time away from my trainer.
I didnt learn anything new, the horse didnt learn anything new, we just applied what we had been taught but unable to implement.

spotted mustang
Sep. 23, 2009, 11:59 PM
I don't think that's true for all people.

yeah it is. The brain is involved in directing all of your movements except spinal reflexes like the knee jerk. Any kind of coordinated movement requires the lil' puddin upstairs.

Ellie&Werther
Sep. 24, 2009, 01:24 AM
I have a blog I try to write in on a regular basis, especially if I have time to get to it that night it really helps me think about everything I worked on in that ride and then have a plan in my head for the next ride.

kdow
Sep. 24, 2009, 02:57 AM
Practice may make perfect but the human brain requires processing time between new experiences for learning to occur. Particularly, SLEEP is crucial to the brain's ability to secure memory and integrate new experiences into the existing framework. Muscle recovery and growth are also dependent on the duration and quality of sleep.


Yup. I think the initial study was with rats and learning to run a maze - they found that there was brain activity very similar to that of running the maze while the rats were in a certain phase of sleep - if they interrupted the rats right before they got to that phase (so they never got to 'dream' about the maze) then their performance was markedly worse than in the rats who were allowed to sleep normally. (I think they also interrupted the sleep cycle during other phases, to rule out sleep disturbance in and of itself as the cause of the difference.)

Anyway, you don't HAVE to mentally go over it before you sleep - your brain is going to go over it (and bunches of other things you've done during the day) while you're asleep whether you like it or not unless you have a sleeping problem such that you don't get through the proper sleep cycle. (People with sleep apnea, for example, can have horrible problems due to not hitting all the cycles of sleep.) It's just that focusing on the specific moment or moments when things went well helps to reinforce that memory and keep it 'fresh' for when your brain starts processing.

spotted mustang
Sep. 24, 2009, 03:25 AM
I have found it works for my horse, too. When we first try a new thing, I ask him to do just a little, just once or twice. Then I leave it alone. And often, the next ride I find that he can do it much better already, almost as if he secretly practiced in his paddock :)

slc2
Sep. 24, 2009, 07:16 AM
I don't think it means one needs a certain number of days between lessons. I don't think it means that someone must write about it or even talk about it. I think how each person works a learning varies a little, but I'm not sure conscious writing and talking is the core of it, I think much of learning dressage is is by feel, and by a not-entirely conscious review of that feel.

I'm not sure one fundamentally enforces feel learning intellectually; I think it's a more subtle process based on my experiences. Not muscle memory type of thing, which is supposed to be processes that don't hit the brain and stay in the spinal nerves. But I think a lot of dressage learning is higher than muscle memory, but not wholely conscious, intellectual learning reinforced by writing and speaking. I think writing and speaking might help minimally, not fundamentally.

I've occasionally experienced this with 'intellectual learning' but I think that's generally not how intellectual learning works - I think tutoring, study groups, discussion, reinforcing reading, work sheets - I took a course, got sick, missed all but the first day, studied for a test out at the end of the term, and wasn't able to grasp all the material immediately by reading, as evidenced by a sample test. I waited two months, didn't restudy the material, didn't do any labs, didn't even consciously THINK about the material, and 4-pointed the test out.

Learning is decidedly weird, LOL. I think because dressage is largely about producing a feeling that you experience and then try to duplicate, and that feel is only bolstered by intellectual information, and is produced by physical action, that it takes not-conscious time to make it more duplicatable.

Our talk the other night was that those who have to rush on to a million other activities and demands on their brain and time, don't get that not-so-intellectual, not-so-conscious processing time.

Equibrit
Sep. 24, 2009, 10:00 AM
yeah it is. The brain is involved in directing all of your movements except spinal reflexes like the knee jerk. Any kind of coordinated movement requires the lil' puddin upstairs.

Are we talking about the conscious brain activity or the subconscious. I was referring to the latter.

mp
Sep. 24, 2009, 10:42 AM
no. just need the physical practice.

Yup. Muscle memory. I find that if I ride the very next day, I retain the feel for what I've learned much better.

mbm
Sep. 24, 2009, 11:11 AM
for me, if i spend time visualizing my rides/lessons then i learn a lot faster..... it is like i am actually riding and my "muscle memory" builds much faster ans does my response time etc.

alacrity
Sep. 24, 2009, 11:23 AM
Yes, I tend to do better after taking time to process what I've learned but a lot of it is muscle memory and making note of those ah-ha moments in lessons. I can respond quickly to instruction, but with new concepts I sometimes need to stop and talk through it, try it, get feedback, try again. That's the way I learn. I could not take lessons from someone who just barked orders at me from the middle of the arena and took questions at the end.

HollysHobbies
Sep. 24, 2009, 12:09 PM
I keep a notebook at the barn and jot down what I'm supposed to remember at the end of a lesson. Dorky, but it works.

I'm someone who often "forgets" to ride during a lesson--that is, I'll be working so hard on practicing what my trainer has said that I may stop analyzing/feeling what's going on under me (causing other problems, of course). It's VERY important for me to work alone and have quiet time to practice what we've been working on and to feel the cause-effect. My trainer actually calls me "my own trainer."

When I first started back into serious dressage training a year ago (I have always been a daily rider, but not so fortunate as to have a trainer in my barn until recently), I did lessons 2X a month (with pointers in-between)--at the time, it was simply taking that long for me to feel like I had improved/fixed the problems we had identified in the last lesson. I hate to go to a lesson, pay all that money, and be told the same thing as the last time--that's MY fault (not hers) though--I didn't fix whatever the problem was. And I just don't have that kind of disposable income. Hence, the notebook.

Now, I'm taking them weekly--I feel like I'm progressing faster much faster and the major things that took a while to really fix (like thigh pinching to hold me on my massive warmblood mover so I wouldn't bounce :)--that took about 3 months to get rid of--daily w/out stirrup work--yes, my horse gets massive amounts of carrots) are basically fixed, so the things I have to work on are more subtle. I have 2 horses now, which helps me too! We moved from First level, during this time, to Second (with qualifying scores to prove it--woohoo) and are schooling all of Third.

At shows, it's generally better if my trainer helps me for a few minutes and then leaves me alone--if she were to coach me until I entered the ring, I wouldn't have it together--I'm an introvert by nature.

I have VERY much noticed that progression, with me, comes in steps--I can be plugging along for months not "getting" it/feeling a change, and then WHAMO, we're at a whole new level. That's ALWAYS how dressage has been for me. I believe I'm too much a thinking rider and don't trust what I feel, but hey, I'm getting there and I'm dedicated, love my horses to death, and have a good support network. And I'm goin' for that bronze medal! :)

stryder
Sep. 24, 2009, 12:12 PM
I often need some time to process. I think about my lesson in the car on the way home, and if some piece still isn't solid, I sit on my exercise ball and slowly work through it. Of course there are some "aha" moments during the lesson, because my trainer uses a variety of methods to help me learn.

I think how involved the brain is depends upon what kind of work we do. Some of us live in a more physical world and can simply react. Over the years my life has become less physical. I think something, and it either comes out my mouth or through my fingers. Of course I can walk and chew bubblegum, and people would say I'm somewhat coordinated. But not as adept physically as people who ride hours each day, or a variety of horses, in addition to other physical pursuits.

For example, I can begin learning a movement in one direction and feel pretty good about it. Before attempting it the other direction, I need to think through what actions will be required, because it won't automatically port over. I like to think that when I was younger, and much more physical, this would have been easier for me.

Tiligsmom
Sep. 24, 2009, 12:31 PM
Anyone else find that they need 'brain time', even off the horse, to absorb their lessons? We were talking about this last night, the idea that to absorb something in a lesson, we need some time to think about it, maybe that process isn't even always entirely something one is aware of or focusing on.

Timely topic! I ALWAYS review, analyze my rides afterwards. I had a trainer who's goal was to teach her students to be thoughtful trainers of their horses, so her lessons always included things like "tell me why I asked you to do X. What part of the body does this influence? What type of exercise is this?" She was the person who really got me thinking about the nuances and the technical aspects of the work so that I could replicate thoughtfully in novel situations.

A barnmate and I were having this discussion. She grew up riding and rides just with feel. She does well at training level and has great equitation. The problem she has is deconstructing issues that come up with her mare and applying correct gymnastics or aids for the specific issue. Her lack of intellectual/analytical understanding of dressage has limited her ability to problem solve on her own and left her uber-dependent on her trainer. Her big AH HA came last week when she watched some of Jane Savoie's videos and realized that she's missing the entire "Why we do this particular exercise...." part of dressage!!! She was jubilant to have found this analytical door because she knows it will make her a better rider.

spotted mustang
Sep. 24, 2009, 04:00 PM
Are we talking about the conscious brain activity or the subconscious. I was referring to the latter.

both, actually. Both the cerebral cortex and lower brain centers need to cooperate to ingrain new movement patterns. The conscious and subconscious are not that easily separable when it come to learning :)

Gloria
Sep. 24, 2009, 04:28 PM
I don't think it means one needs a certain number of days between lessons. I don't think it means that someone must write about it or even talk about it. I think how each person works a learning varies a little, but I'm not sure conscious writing and talking is the core of it, I think much of learning dressage is is by feel, and by a not-entirely conscious review of that feel.

I'm not sure one fundamentally enforces feel learning intellectually; I think it's a more subtle process based on my experiences. Not muscle memory type of thing, which is supposed to be processes that don't hit the brain and stay in the spinal nerves. But I think a lot of dressage learning is higher than muscle memory, but not wholely conscious, intellectual learning reinforced by writing and speaking. I think writing and speaking might help minimally, not fundamentally.

I've occasionally experienced this with 'intellectual learning' but I think that's generally not how intellectual learning works - I think tutoring, study groups, discussion, reinforcing reading, work sheets - I took a course, got sick, missed all but the first day, studied for a test out at the end of the term, and wasn't able to grasp all the material immediately by reading, as evidenced by a sample test. I waited two months, didn't restudy the material, didn't do any labs, didn't even consciously THINK about the material, and 4-pointed the test out.

Learning is decidedly weird, LOL. I think because dressage is largely about producing a feeling that you experience and then try to duplicate, and that feel is only bolstered by intellectual information, and is produced by physical action, that it takes not-conscious time to make it more duplicatable.

Our talk the other night was that those who have to rush on to a million other activities and demands on their brain and time, don't get that not-so-intellectual, not-so-conscious processing time.

Yes defininitely, absolutely, every time when I go to clinics. I always tape my clinics because there are just too much information to absorbe while on the horse. And I always take notes when I watch the tape. In the midst of rewinding, taking notes, disgusted with my positions, etc, I always find myself saying, ummmm this is what he meant... Ummm I wonder what he meant... ummm I wonder why I did not pick it up then.. Then I may go to dig up some more books to confirm what I have just understood.

Then I may go to bed with the new knowledge or new question, and dream about it, and next day try to replicate what I have learnt while on the couch....

To me, riding dressage is a very intellectual thing. I cannot make my body behave unless my brain understand it. I know some people can just learn without really thinking about it. Unfortunately not me.

stillpoint
Sep. 26, 2009, 12:06 PM
I actually have one horse that is very much like this. He can struggle with a new lesson, make a small amount of progress, and then the next ride completely understand without further explanation. It's like he has to go back to his stall and think about it a little.

slc2
Sep. 26, 2009, 02:21 PM
thanks everyone, what great responses.