Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Frustrated in My Body

We loped along the rail; Milo was on a loose but connected rein, we were working on keeping the front end up at the lope as we had previously been working at the trot. Down the straight-of-way, he started to begin to change his lead. I kept my outside spur on him to encourage him to stay on the correct lead. He fumbled down into the trot. We loped off again and once more he tried changing leads along the straight-of-way. It didnt feel like he was trying to "cheat me" and change leads wherever, it felt that he honestly thought that was what he was supposed to do.

I should have noticed the signs. He wasnt shaping very nicely around my legs, the nuchal flip behind his ears was to the off-side. And suddenly, I realized, I was sitting way off onto the right seatbone at the lope. I broke it down before trying to lope again. Shape around my leg, make sure I am balanced correctly through my seatbones, keep the nuchal flip to the correct side, but dont over-bit him - a lifted back was still essential.

I tried again. There it was, the lope I knew we had, no sudden lead change efforts. We worked on our fast to slow circles, which were getting better. Milo seems to have discovered he has another speed (I thank, due mostly, to our trail rides were we found his second speed). Now it is a project of gaining speed but staying correct. We are getting better.

I was so frustrated with myself as I worked on a couple of stops. The few random (and not pre-thought-out) were really nice - Milo got into the dirt and let his front end keep going. But once I would anticipate working on a stop, they fell apart. I realized I was jamming into my saddle, and toes. I couldnt seem to get my weight down into my heels for a stop, instead it would all go right into my toes. Maybe from riding off the balls of my feet? This has been such a good thing for me to retrain myself to ride with my seat rather then a locked leg through the heel. If it wasnt the toe jamming, it was the stiff back. Only at the walk it seemed I had enough control over my lower back to actually round it into a stop (but would lack the weighted heels). A few instances I had a better trot to stop, but usually when I wasnt thinking so much about it.

How on earth can I fix the problem if I cant think about it??

Am I doomed to be restricted to the capabilities of my crooked and unaware body?

Two steps forward, one step back. I achieve the "aha" moment, only to find another area that is seriously lacking. Will there finally be a time when all those aha moments have been attained and there is no longer an area of my body I need realization of?

Such the beauty of riding, hmm?

1 comment:

Kate said...

We're all crooked or out of balance in some way. This is a hard concept to put into words - what I've been working on lately is trying to have whole body awareness - posture, breathing, balance, you name it - rather than overthinking each part - and to judge how I'm doing by how the horse is going.

Mark had me work on an interesting exercise related to this at the clinic - when cantering, I was to focus on the footfalls and think them lighter to get more elevation. And he wouldn't tell me what to do to get that, as at that point it was more a matter of me communicating the feel to the horse rather than doing a particular set of cues or actions. Feel it first . . . easier said than done but I think the key component once your riding reaches a particular level - which yours certainly has.