How Two Minds Meet: Imitation and Imagination

In an excerpt from her new book, Dressage master Beth Baumert discusses the beauty of learning through imagination and imitation, a core principal behind the concepts in her instructional guide to understanding our horse’s — and our own — minds.

The subheading of this new book, by Beth Baumert published Trafalgar Square books might indicate that it is entirely about dressage. However, this fantastic guide takes an in-depth look at the minds of horses and riders, how each of us learn, and how we can be most effective within our equestrian partnerships.

In her introduction Baumert writes, “If you tell a rider to put her brain in her butt, she’ll sit better. If you tell her to lighten her heart, she’ll feel better. If you tell a jumper to pretend she’s in Beezie Madden’s boots, she and her horse will both jump better. If you tell a dressage rider to pretend she’s wearing the gloves of Charlotte Dujardin, she’ll have a better connection and her horse will move better. What’s up with that?”

What’s up with that indeed. In How Two Minds Meet, Baumer explores the magic of the mental game and just how effective thinking about excellence can be. She talks about a rider’s addiction to horses and why it is so easy to get hooked on a good ride. She suggests it might be because riding pushes us into a higher mind, allowing us to access more than just an analytical style of thinking. You develop feel as a rider, and connectivity with your horse as a result. Baumert argues, that there is nothing better.

In an excerpt that ran in our Jan/Feb 2021 issue, Baumert writes about the power of imagining a good ride. She discusses how riders can improve by simply thinking about their position and also by watching those better than themselves. This technique involves no actual riding, but can do wonders for a rider to plug in and improve.

Imitation and Imagination 

You are only able to improve your riding if you can watch someone better than yourself—or if you can watch riders who are better in a specific way. German superstar Dorothee Schneider studies other riders and emulates aspects of their riding that she thinks will help her. You can rise above your current riding environment and set higher goals for yourself by reaching out to find a better situation to emulate. 

Fortunately, the internet makes it possible to watch any top rider in the world, and those who avail themselves of that opportunity enable their improvement. Some riders don’t have an excellent rider to emulate in their own barn, but they can always watch great riders online. You might identify with a specific rider, either because he or she has similar body conformation to your own, or maybe your affinity for a specific rider is for some unknown reason. Follow your gut with this, and imagine how it feels to be that rider. It will definitely improve your own riding! 

Which rider do you identify with? Maybe the spirit of Ingrid Klimke’s riding inspires you (see photo). Is crookedness a problem of yours? If so, check out Kyra Kyrklund’s riding. She’s very straight, and she’s good at teaching straightness. If you study her riding, you’ll figure out why. Then pretend you’re Kyra! These great riders are wonderful role models. Let one of them be your imaginary mentor who will improve your weaknesses. 

Remember to use your imagination skills reguarly to strengthen them. Imagine yourself riding every step of your ideal ride at the next horse show. Or imagine yourself riding at a clinic or a riding lesson. Make it good! 

It’s human nature to always imagine the future as either better or worse than the present. Be aware of how you’re shaping your future. Make it a good one!

This excerpt from How Two Minds Meet by Beth Baumert, is reprinted with permission from Trafalgar Square Books . Discover more educational books for Horse and Rider at: