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)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Centered Riding Lessons during Week-long Lessons

June, 2009

As soon as I returned home from the Centered Riding Instructors Course in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I had 2 weeks of weeklong morning lessons with 4-5 youth each day. The weeklong lessons during the summer are different than the regular lessons. I incorporate more games into the summer sessions rather than just teach horsemanship and pleasure like I do during their regular lessons.

Week-long morning sessions are 3 hours long. When the youth first arrive, we tie the horse with a quick release knot, and show them how to safely move around the horses. We never going under the tie rope to cross in front of the horse while the horse is tied. For new riders who haven’t come for lessons before, we show them how to curry and brush, especially checking the top of the back, the withers, and the girth area for dirt. They groom their horses, learning about health and hoof care and safety. The youth learn to saddle, first adjusting the saddle pad, making sure to protect the wither area. They learn the cinch knot, first just snugging up the girth lightly as to not make the horse cinchy and irritated by the girth. After we walk the horse to the arena, we tighten the girth. The riders mount, using a step stool as to not pull the saddle off balance, and we adjust the stirrups.

During the first ride session, I grounded the rider’s feet. I tapped on the bottom of their foot, asking them to tell me when the tap felt a little different on a part of their foot. Some of the youth could tell the difference, some couldn’t. Some felt a little dull, some felt a ting. I asked the ones that couldn’t feel a difference, if their foot felt different in the stirrup. I had hoped that they could feel the “whole foot” be part of the stirrup, not just the toe or middle part of the foot.

We worked on riding in a bubble. I think they liked this the best! I think that they could actually picture an invisible bubble around them (like a gigantic bumble gum bubble or from the jars of bubbles that you blow!). With soft eyes, they walked over and around logs, being careful not to get into anyone else’s bubble. Then we rode in our bubble at the trot. We rode over the logs again and in small circles at the trot. We changed directions while staying in our own bubble.

We worked on trotting and posting and 2 pointing. We worked on sitting the trot and getting the correct diagonal when we started posting. We worked on the correct body position, whether we were sitting the trot, posting or 2 pointing.

As the kids worked on relaxing and breathing, the horses relaxed. Towards the end of the week, we worked on individually working a trail course. The key was to breathe and stay relaxed. Remembering to use soft eyes, looking for the next obstacle.

The kids are having fun and I plan on using more of the Centered Riding Techniques in my lessons with them.

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