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 15, 2010

Centered Riding Group Lesson

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I had an AWESOME Centered Riding Group Lesson today! The 3 hour group lesson had 8 wonderful riders and horses! The horses were well matched, and the riders were enthusiastic!

We began with a 45 minute session, off horses, on explaining the 4 basics, plus the 2 additional principles. I explained Soft Eyes, Breathing, Centering and Building Blocks, as well as Grounding and Clear Intent. We worked on some exercises that explain each of these principles. We paired up with a partner to practice some of the exercises on the ground.

To show the difference between Soft Eyes and Hard Eyes, I had one partner walk around the other person, first with hard eyes to show how far they can see with their peripheral vision, then with soft eyes. With soft eyes, the peripheral vision has an increase field of vision.

I talked about the diaphragm being the largest muscle in the body. As we breathe in, the lungs fill with air, pushing the diaphragm down. If we place our hand over our abdomen, we should fell it move outward as we breathe in.

I talked about the pelvic bone and how the pelvic area is like a vessel. Our center is slightly below the top of the vessel. I demonstrated with a helmet over a garbage can - I had to use the aids that I had. The center is always moving, rolling as fast or as slow as you need the horse to move.

Our body is stacked like building blocks. The blocks need to be aligned in a straight line, with a relaxed back. We did some balance exercises, demonstrating what would happen if our bodies tipped forward or backward, if our 10-15 # head tipped forward or back, or if our neck was not in that alignment.

Clear Intent is basically riding with a purpose and showing the horse that purpose. Many time, when we just go to where we are looking, that is enough clear intent for the horse to follow our aids.

Grounding is always a fun exercise. Grounding our feet continued once we are on the horse. We found our “bubbling spring”, that area on the bottom of our foot, right behind the ball of our foot, which is the wide part of our foot. When we tap on that area, we feel anything from a slight thud to a tingling sensation. We need to ride on our bubbling spring and stay grounded.

We took a short break then got on our horses and rode. I went through each of these areas and after each one was explained, the riders practiced. We started with grounding our feet and hip releases. The riders all thought that after their feet were grounded, their legs felt longer. With hip releases, some of the riders were able to get their legs underneath them. Others will need to stretch out their hip joints and work on continuing to open up their hip area to allow their leg to come back underneath them. We worked on a few exercises to relax the ankle, knee and hip joints.

The riders rode the area and focused on soft eyes and deep breathing. I had them be aware of how much more they could see, and to breathe when they started to focus on one area too long.

We worked on finding our “Neutral Pelvis” with 2 different exercises. Once we found the correct position, the riders went back out to the rail to work on trotting and the 2 point position. I had the riders remember to feel grounded, as well as working on soft eyes and breathing. Then we added in the exercise “Dancing Knees”. As the riders rode in 2 point, they were to relax each leg joint and feel the movement in each joint. Relax and "allow" the movement in their ankles, knees and hips.

Centering is about riding from your center and moving the horse from your center. As we became aware of where we should sit, we walked the horse, feeling the movement of the horse. This is the “Following Seat”. As the riders asked their horses to increase the walk through spinning the ball within their center, the horses extended the length of stride at the walk. As the horse’s stride improved, so do the ability of the rider to move with the horse’s movement.

By the end of the lesson I was beaming. The horses were more and more relaxed as the day went on. The riders were more relaxed and were able to allow their bodies to move and change.

I had such a good day. I had riders who were there to become better riders. I had horses who were happy and content. And I learned from my riders as well. They showed me how their bodies responded. They should me where they had difficulty and where I can help them. They gave me excellent feedback, as well as helpful suggestions to their own specific problems or areas that they want to change.

Centered Riding is a journey. The riders who rode today have begun this journey. That makes me so happy that I was there to help them!

“Embrace the Journey!”

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