Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
Click on Logo (Original artwork by Lanie Frick for Messick Quarter Horses. Not permitted to be copied)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Centered Riding Clinic

Centered Riding Clinic, in preparation for the Instructor's Clinic in June and August!

After traveling 3 hours to Carol Wilson’s barn just north of Topeka, Kansas, I got Finny settled in his stall. Temps were in the low 90’s here, so my plans of riding him this afternoon didn’t pan out! Sun was beating down and I was sweating! So I gave him hay and water and told him he was lucky to be relaxing in a stall out of the sun! I registered late for the clinic, so all outside pens were full. Good thing for Finny, being a black horse. Black and sun don’t mix well!

By the time I leveled up the trailer, unhooked, turned Finny out for some stretch time and scooped his stall, it was time to freshen up and get ready for the evening’s seminar. I put Finny back into his stall, changed into fresh, non-smelly socks, and put some deodorant on to mask warm body, changed into clean jeans and a non-sweaty “horsey” top, and I was ready to go. The evening’s event was in the small town’s pizza joint! I ordered a small supreme pizza, without onions and peppers, and went to join the others. And there were free, home-made chocolate and peanut butter brownies! Yummy!!!

Besides being a Level 3 Centered Riding Instructor, Carol is also a Level 2 TTeam Practitioner. Her evening clinic was “7 Easy Exercises to Improve Your Riding”. With Carol’s communication background and her easy going manner and humor, the evening was fun and educational!!! She taught us the 7 exercises, using fun cartoons, with personal experiences, and by volunteer examples.

Carol outline the Center Riding Basics. Soft Eyes. Breathing. Building Blocks. Centering. Grounding. Clear Intent. More on this tomorrow, after the clinic.

She discussed rider issues. Tension. Lack of Body Awareness. Asymmetry. Breathing. Lack of Core Strength. More on this after the clinic also.

We practiced the 7 exercises:

Body Wrap: Ace bandages placed lightly on the body to “hold” the body or part of the body. After an hour, what is the awareness. The volunteer could not balance on 1 foot. After this lightly placed wrap, she sat and rose from a chair with ease, and she easily balanced on each foot!

Neutral Spine. We laid on the floor, with our knees bent and our feet flat on the ground to find that spot were we are centered. We marched in place to find this spot, only raising our knees until they were pointing towards the ceiling. We tip our pelvics back to flatten our backs onto the floor. We rolled our pelvics up to raise our backs off the floor.

Breathing. As we practicing breathing, did we breath shallow and only raised our chest, or did we breathe deep and use our abdomen? With this exercise, we placed our hands on each side of our ribs, then on our stomach to feel our breaths. We then were to breath deep, and move our abdomen up and down. Then we were to take the same deep breaths, but not move the “marble” that was placed on our belly button. This helps to strengthen the core! More on this important topic later!

Hip Control. Carol demonstrated with a volunteer. She raised the leg and held the foot. Someone said it look like she was trying to clean out their feet! Lol Then she relaxed the leg, holding it lightly, and made tiny circles. As the leg loosened and lost tension, the hip became looser. As the person walked after this was completed, they felt like they had a looser, freer moving “gait”! lol Everything is in horse terms!

Shoulder Lift. Carol demonstrated with a volunteer again. She held the arm, just to support it. Then she lightly made tiny circles with the arm until she felt the arm loosen up. As she ran her hand down the arm to the hands, the arm lengthened as it relaxed.

Waiter Exercise. Oh, my! You used your whole body for this exercise. Raise your hand as if you are holding a waiter’s tray. Go ahead, try this one! Now, circle the tray in a complete 360 circle! How are you going to accomplish this? Tricky, huh? It can be done. As you lower your hand forward and down, bend at the knees. Bring your hand back towards your hip and straighten up. Practice both directions.

And lastly, the Tongue Exercise! First we stretched our necks sideways as far as we could, and focus on a point in both directions. Then we looked up and back, remembering how far we could look back. Now, with your tongue, rub the outside and inside of the top teeth. Now rub the outside and inside of the bottom teeth. Now write your name with your tongue. Repeat the neck stretches. You can stretch further, can’t you?

These exercises taught us to be more aware of our body. After we completed the exercises, we reviewed the list of rider issues. With doing these exercises, what rider issues could each of these exercises help with? Each person had different answers, depending on what problems they had when they rode and how they felt that these exercises could help them.

I am here to become a more aware rider. I want to know how my body is affecting my horse and my ride. I want to ride as centered and correctly as possible. I want my horse and I to be a complete team - a team that completes each other!

If you are interested in Centered Riding, check out their website at:

Come along on this fun, challenging, self-awareness ride with me!


Good Hands said...

Brenda, this is great stuff!! I can't wait to hear more and to follow your journey down this path! Isn't the most wonderful thing about horsemanship that there is always more to learn! Thanks for sharing this with us!

Brenda said...

thanks, Terri! We do need to be open to learning new techniques. There is a different "feel" to this horsemanship that I am truly enjoying! I try to teach "feel" all the time, and maybe this is the way that I can finally accomplish that. I'm excited to teach what I know. And you sound like you are excited about your riding, too! That's fantastic. It's a great feeling to set back and enjoy what we are doing! Good Luck to you, too!

Nosnikta said...

That's pretty neat. It sounds like you are really enjoying it and I can't wait to hear more.

I'm going to skip straight past the ace bandage and opt for a girdle. :-P

Brenda said...

actually, the ace bandage is only to hold and support, and to give body awareness. The ace bandage helps to find the body's natural alignment by supporting the muscle. Within a short time, when the wrap was taken off, you could see the difference in the posture and how the person walked! neat stuff!


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