“Practice makes permanent”. One of my teachers said this to me in terms of driving and it really stuck with me. We all know the phrase “Practice makes perfect”, but does it really? If you practice something one way, you can’t expect it to be perfect just because you practiced it. You would have to practice it perfectly even time for that statement to be true.
Our bodies have something called muscle memory. It can remember how to do something a certain way if that action is performed enough times. Muscle memory comes into play many times while we are riding. Our body somehow remembers how to post or ask for a canter transition or how to get on without us putting much thought into it. We have done these things for so long that they have become second nature to us.
Do you have a habit that you just cannot break without focusing only on that one thing? You probably picked up that habit because that’s how you learned how to do that action. Your body can only think of one way to carry out that request your brain sent it because that’s the only way it knows how. When you ask it to do that task any other way it can feel like you are asking the sky to turn purple. That way of execution has become permanent because of practice.
The same goes for your horse. If they do something over and over again, that’s what they are going to remember. That’s why it is so important to make sure you are teaching them the right way. It can take years to fix a habit whether it is you or your horse. Don’t try to do a new movement on your horse unless one of you has done it before. Better to do it right the first time and practice it that way then try to fix it later on.