Those were the words I texted to Boyfriend and Sarah after I finished my ride with Milo Friday morning.
The last few weeks I have ridden exclusively without stirrups. Even in my last lesson over the weekend I rode entirely without stirrups. In fact, the last few rides I was wondering when I would ever use them again. I finally was getting relaxation in my ankles, I was (have been) afraid to pick them up again in fear that the tension will creep back into my ankles.
However, Friday everything was going along really well. So halfway through the ride I decided to pick up my stirrups. If I felt tension creeping up, then I would ditch em again and go stirrup-less. Surprisingly, after picking them up, I was still able to keep relaxation in my ankles, and let my feet rhythmically bump up and down and swing back and forth. Things were going well. At the trot. Could this work in the lope?
We moved into the lope, and honestly, it wasnt pretty. Milo was really fast, hollow, and snarky on circles. But I was able to find rhythm and relaxation in my ankles. What gives? What it my back? My position? We continued to lope and I was hoping the answer would suddenly appear. We got a few decent strides so I let him catch his breath. We walked for a little bit, and loped again. Not quick or snarky, but scrambly. At least now he wasnt running wildly. We walked for a little while longer.
Changed direction and went into the lope to the right. We circled, and Milo felt a little better. Maybe it was just because he was more tired. Suddenly, I heard Sarah's voice tell me to stop looking at his head. Just like in the serpentine exercise, I needed to look up and feel my horse from back to front. If I just watched his head I couldnt feel his body. So I started to look up and watch where I was going.
Things started coming along better. Then I really sat up, sternum to the sky, core strong. I could feel my horse engage his hind end. My hands got a little softer as I didnt need to focus on his head. We turned onto a circle, and loped a few circles. I was able to direct Milo from my seat. Everything came effortlessly. Milo came up over his back, and relaxed. My ankles were still soft, and everything fell into place. We came across the center of the circle again, and I softened my lower back and said "Woah." Milo gave me a really, really nice stop. A beautiful pair of elevens. I dismounted right then and there, gave Milo a huge pat, and thought about what happened as I walked him out. All I did was look up. It changed my body position and put everything into line. Look up. What a concept.