The ability to "think on your feet" is important for riders in many disciplines - but it is absolutely crucial for Eventers! As one of the things I like the best about our sport is that no matter how well your coach has prepared you and told you how to ride the course.... once the starter has said "Go!" you are out there on your own! You need to be acutely aware of what is happening, be able to make quick decisions, and have the confidence to follow through with them!
If you hear the news as you are about to go into the start box that the footing on the right side of 12A is completely torn up, which is right where you were told to jump 12A to get your line for 12B, what do you do? Would you be able to make a quick decision about whether to stick to your original plan or to change it? And how confidently could you pull off riding a line different than you had walked?
If your horse stumbles and you lose the reins upon landing in the water, can you think quickly enough to make a decision about whether to stick to plan A and go the short way out? Or whether it wouldn't be smarter to go the long way (if their is one), or make a quick stop or circle in the water to get organized? Your ability to make a good decision in a split second can make the difference between a clear round or a disaster!
Now, you might be thinking that the ability to think quickly under pressure is an innate trait. And that you either have it or you don't. But even though some people are naturally better at it than others, it can be developed, just like any other skill, with time and practice.
I am first going to share with you a story of a frightening incident, where the ability to think quickly saved my life. And then I will share a few specific exercises that will help you to improve your ability to think and react quickly. (Click on Article Title above (in blue) to read full article)