Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Centered Riding Lesson with Sara

June 13, 2009

I have just completed the first part of the Level 1 Centered Riding Instructors Course. I left Steamboat Springs and headed back to Nunn, CO, via Laramie, Wyoming. Back up and over Rabbit Ears Pass and passing the Continental Divide sign. Eyes straight ahead, not looking over those edges! Especially since I ran into some rain going over the pass!

Sara lives northeast of Fort Collins, CO. She, her husband Jake, and 6 month old daughter Makenzie, live on 8 acres with 3 Quarter Horses, 2 Heelers and 1 German Shorthair, a cat, and many pigeons that they are raising. I traveled with my horse, Finny, and Sara has a round pen that I can keep him in while I visit for a day.

Sara wanted to have me show her what I have been learning. Since having the baby, she hasn’t had as much time as she would have wanted to exercise her horses. She has been riding Peaches and Roz, but she likes to lunge them down first. We had put Makenzie down for a nap, and we decided to use Finny for a lesson with Sara. Sara has a very knowledgeable background with horses. She showed for many years as a youth, studied equine science in college, and was on the college equestrain team as well as the horse judging team. (Her judging team won Congress and placed 2nd at the World Show. What an achievement for her!)

I showed her a few things while we were in the house. I grounded her feet, talked about soft eyes, and breathing deep. I showed her the idea of tipping the pelvis as if a ball was rolling back and forth.

We saddled Finny but I didn’t bridle him as I thought I would only show Sara a few things. We ended up having more time as Makenzie took a long nap! I started from the beginning and grounded Sara’s feet. I wanted her to feel her whole foot in the stirrup. I did a hip release and she could feel the difference. I told her to start out with small changes as her body may not be used to the stretch and we don’t want to make her sore. She had some back trouble since having the baby and recently had gone to the chiropractor. I didn’t want her back to start hurting if we did too many changes too fast.

Sara rode Finny with the lead rope attached to both sides of Finny’s halter. I talked again about riding with Soft Eyes and using your peripheral vision to see all around you. We talked about breathing deep through the abdomen, and exhaling out so that the horse can hear the exhale. As you breathe, so does your horse.

As Sara walked Finny, I showed her how to find her seat bones by rolling her pelvis back and forth. Another exercise is to sit with the legs up on the pommel and slowly lowering them and picking up the stirrups. You can raise and lower one leg at a time if you are uncomfortable putting both legs on the pommel at the same time.

We worked on walking the knees, which is a great exercise to start allowing the body to relax, and allowing the hip, knee, and ankle joints to move and absorb the motion of the horse. Sara said she had some knee discomfort, but after she allowed her whole leg to move with the horse, her knee felt better. I explained to her that when she worked on allowing her joints to move more, her horse will have a better movement. Our relaxation in our joints will allow our horse to relax. The horse will begin stretching his hind leg deeper under his body and will begin to have more freedom in his movement.

Sara needs to work on allowing her body to move, just as I do. The many years of showing horsemanship and being taught to not move is a hard habit to break. Our bodies have a memory too. The easiest way I found to allow the leg joints to move was while I was trotting in 2 point position. Concentrate on being relaxed and allow the knee to take the motion of the horse.

Sara rode at the trot. First, sitting and feeling the motion of the horse in her knees, and trying to see the knees raise and lower as the horse moves. Then moving up to the trot, and while in 2 point, allowing the body to relax. Once you realize that the legs can move and absorb the movement, it becomes easier and easier to relax and feel the motion in the joints. Once you can let the joints take all the movement, you will not have sore legs, knees, ankles, thighs!

Sara was excited to do what she has always done with the horses, but now to ride in a centered, relax style. Even though she is a relaxed rider, and is very comfortable with what she is doing with the horses, she feels like she is even more relaxed and secure in the saddle. She can see how being centered will help her ride reining horses.

And I am excited to have done my first lesson immediately after my Instructors Course! I love teaching what works! I love showing people the techniques and seeing the results in a short time. If you are open to change, then you can change. You just never realize what your body can do until you try!

This is an amazing journey and I am so happy that Sara is along on the journey with me. Makenzie will be, too, as soon as she can sit in a saddle and be safe. Come along on the journey with us!


Sheila, manager said...

Interesting material, Brenda! Wish I was closer to you, I'd take a few lessons. I'm glad Sara is along with you on the journey.

Brenda said...

thanks, Sheila. I find if I write down what I am doing, I remember longer. And it also makes more sense when I am trying to apply the techniques, whether it is with myself or a student. I hope to get my adult group started back up in the fall, so keep that in mind for a lesson or 2! I hope to also do a clinic in the fall, so I'll see if I can get that done! I hope your riding is going well this summer! I'm glad my daughter, Sara, is interested too. It gives me someone to talk my ideas out with, and no one knows my riding style better than her!


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