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)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Centered Riding Lesson with an Adult Beginner Rider

Friday, September 4, 2009

I had a Centered Riding lesson with an adult who is new to horses, new to Centered Riding, and new to riding with me for lessons. When she called for a lesson, she said she had just received the Centered Riding book for her birthday, which was during the week that she called! What a coincidence! Then during the lesson, we found we had many similarities (except our age! Lol I‘m a “few“ years older!) I found out that she had a degree in a field in the horse industry as do I, and she was also interested in horse massage. I graduated in Agriculture in Animal Production and I am an Equine Massage Therapist.

I had a great lesson with this new rider. I enjoy having lessons with adults who wanted to learn, who are excited to be here, and who understand, or try to understand what is new to them, and what is being taught. She worked hard on understanding exactly how her body was moving. I look forward to my adult lesson group, which will be starting soon.

Since this rider was new to me for lessons, we started the lesson time with meeting her horse, Starlet, and grooming and saddling. We also started with a few exercises on the ground, especially with finding the correct seat position by finding the neutral pelvis. Once we mounted, I started with Grounding the feet, as I believe this gives you a deep feeling in the stirrup. Grounding gives you a feeling of stability, and makes you feel that you are connected to the horse and to the ground. When I grounded her feet, she felt the “grounding”, the feeling, up through her legs to her knees. Whereas with me, I have no sensation in my foot or up my leg, and I just have a duller feeling. I did a final adjustment to the stirrup length.

While sitting still on the horse, I had her rock her pelvis back and forth to find her neutral pelvis. We also worked on soft eyes and hard eyes. She understood this well, as she said it was hard for her to focus on just one spot. She has great peripheral vision already.

She sat very straight, and I needed her to relax her back. Since she has not ridden my horse, Starlet, before, I wanted her to walk around and just get a feel for the horse. But instantly, I noticed that she was trying to sit proper, and was stiff through her back. When I asked her to relax, she said she wanted to make sure she was doing everything right. I decided we needed some breathing exercises. She actually already knew how to breathe deep since she studied some music. We talked about exhaling and relaxing. As she exhaled, relax the lower back. Get the feeling that you would have if you laid on the floor and pushed your back flat against the floor. I had to laugh when she told me she felt sloppy, and she was still sitting tall.

Once again we went to the rail. I was riding Finny. We practiced breathing deeply in through our nose, and exhale, slowly, out our mouths. The quiet exhale is a way to quiet our horse. If we exhale loudly and quickly during riding, this is a cue for the horse to pick up momentum. If we exhale and push down into our seat, this is a cue for the horse to slow down or stop. Our breathing is important, and our inhale and exhale should not be taken for granted.

To continue the relaxation through our backs, I had her do some of the Centered Riding exercises. These exercises follow the Alexander Techniques, and I am excited to read the Alexander book that I just got. We did 3 or 4 arm exercises that open up our chests and lift our shoulders. Then we continued working on Seat Bone exercises. Oh, I think we know where they are when you do some of these exercises. We marched in place, first lifting one leg up then the other leg. Once again, I asked her to relax and ride the arena. I’m glad that I get instant feedback from her. Right away, she asked if the seat bones are suppose to hurt! Maybe some at first, but we worked on trying to find an area on the pelvic floor where it wouldn’t hurt. There is an area where you can sit, not just 1 precise spot. We rocked the pelvis back and forth, finding an area that was “less sensitive”! That seemed to help!

This rider also wanted to relax at the trot, which is why I had chosen Starlet for the first ride. When Starlet is really slow, she is extremely smooth! When a horse’s trot is smooth, you can allow your body to relax and feel the trot motion. It is very hard to do this, as a beginner rider, when the trot is rough! We worked on riding serpentines in the arena, so the rider could practice guiding Starlet. I wanted her to use her soft eyes as she made the turns and to look ahead as she turned. We practiced the serpentines at the walk and at the trot. This sounds easy, but try it with deep breathing, inhaling and exhaling deeply, and soft eyes, and staying grounded, and sitting on your seat bones, and relaxing. Yes, this will all become natural soon!

This rider is a natural, as soon after all of this, she was loping Starlet. I did have to get on Starlet and remind her how to lope nice. My horses really do need a job soon!

Another lesson is scheduled in 2 weeks, when we both have a Friday morning free. Then she will be ready to join the adult group. She just wanted to be comfortable with the horses and my style of riding.

Everyone rides in the group at their own pace. If you ever wanted to practice, ride with a group, or even start riding, come now and ride with us. I have adult riders at all levels and skills. (Kids ride at a different time!) And adults love to socialize.

I’m excited for my next lessons. I’m excited for this cooler weather and getting my horse to the field. I’m excited for fall riding! I love the crispness! Come along on these rides with me!

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