Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider

Training the Mind of the Horse and Rider
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Centered Riding Update Clinic

Day 1

Another June finds me in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for a Centered Riding Clinic. Last year, I was here in June and in August, completing my Level 1 Instructor’s Course with Peggy Brown. This Update Clinic is instructed by Susan Harris. This is 1 of 2 Update Clinics that I will need before August of next year to be able to apply for Level 2 Centered Riding Instructor.

Last year, I had Finny here. I still miss here dearly, and I will always miss “what could have been“. I was so looking forward to where Centered Riding could have taken Finny and I towards a wonderful partnership. We had bonded so well during those summer months of last year, when I started my Centered Riding journey. He was riding beautifully and I was having so much fun with him.

This year, I have Shaggy here. I have raised Shaggy, and from the time we was a weanling, I have always admired his conformation and looks. He has a gentle soul. Things happen for a reason, and God has shown me that I can have another special relationship with another horse. Shaggy’s quiet way of going is what I needed. My Centered Riding journey will continue with him, as I’m sure that there will be many horses in my life that will help me on this journey. I pray that I am able to bring Shaggy to where I had Finny. This sadness that I have with losing Finny will go away some day. I’m hoping Shaggy helps me with that feeling.

I have made mistakes already with Shaggy this past month. One is simple. I got impatient and got after him one day for not picking up his hind feet for me. Now he is scared to pick up his feet. I should have relaxed and did some breathing, but that is what I am doing now. Today he picked up his feet, even though he moved right away. That’s ok, as there is no pressure to do it correct right now. I just don’t him scared to pick up his feet.

The other mistake is taking him into the lope before he was ready to carry me into that lope in a good frame. He is 7 and I wanted him going now. Or so I thought. I don’t need him loping, and loping with collection, by a set date. I don’t need him becoming anxious because I want him to lope. Today, we worked on walk trot transitions and breathing through those transitions. At the beginning of the lesson, Shaggy went from being relaxed and having a level head at the walk to stiff and high headed with being asked to trot. By the end of the hour lesson, he walked and trotted into transitions with a level head. And I have learned that I need to keep him at these transitions until he is comfortable with any walk trot transitions.

During this lesson time with 2 other riders, we worked on the Following Seat, which had us feeling the horse’s movement at the walk. Allowing the hips to move, we were to see if we could feel the front and back movement of the walk, which was easy to do. We were to see if we felt the side to side motion, which I finally “got” recently. At home as I practiced the Backwards Pedaling, I could feel each side of the seat bones moved, first one side pedaled backwards, than the other side. During the lesson, we were to see if we could feel the up and down movement. I didn’t feel that movement.

To feel the front and back movement, we were to picture a large ball moving in our center. This is the Backwards Pedaling motion. We were to picture a watermelon laying on its side for the side to side movement, and take the shape of that watermelon as we pedaled backwards. Then we were to picture that watermelon standing on end, pedaling backwards but up, as in the shape of that watermelon. As the front foot left the ground, you felt the up movement. I got it!

And with the up movement, as I was visualizing that watermelon standing upright, I grew taller. And my horse became lighter on his front end! Light Bulb Moment! His walk was fantastic. He was striding out, relaxed, level headed, AND light on his front end, all with me seeming taller, yet relaxed also.

We had some body work done during the lesson. I had a hip release done, which I love. The hips become more open and the legs seems longer. Once again, the muscles become relaxed and appear longer. Susan showed us a way to move the lower leg in small slow circles which freed up the hip more. She showed us a technique of brushing the lower back, 3 times, then coming over the thigh, ending in a hip release and grounding of the foot. Another thing that I realized was the amount of pressure that Susan used. It wasn’t heavy or hard, but her hand had a certain amount of distinct pressure to it. It was more exact pressure. She explained that after years of experience, she knew the feel. It was clear intent.

Amazing how that felt. I’m not explaining it well, but after I process this and experiment with other riders, I will want to start to develop this feel.

To me, riding horses is a feel. I love passing this feel along to others. I want to develop my feel so that in an instant, riders know that they have been touched by something new and wonderful. Something that will touch their lives and empower their time with horses. I love what Centered Riding is teaching me and how it is affecting my life.

Enjoy your journey, wherever is now and wherever it is taking you. And always,

“Embrace the Journey!”

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