Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Light Bulb Moment

I woke up this morning with butterflies again! I was planning to ride and a little apprehensive about it - on my own - no one to remind me what to do. I headed out to the paddock, tacked up Sam and headed over to the crate to mount up. I mounted Sam stood still while I arranged myself and then something happened.............

I read peoples blogs and marvel when they write about all the little things they do when they ride and how they remember it to write it down - they are what I call 'thinking riders'.

I think I have become a 'thinking rider'. Instead of just letting Sam make his way up to the round yard, I decided how we were going to get there. I started with my position at the halt, then I thought about the process on how to get him to walk on. I kept thinking about every little thing I was doing. I wasn't too concerned about where his head was - up, down, as long as it was going in the direction I wanted to go. I thought in advance what I was going to do to get him around that corner up to the roundyard. Once we were in the round yard I concentrated purely on my position, what I was feeling, was I getting the response I was looking for - was Sam halting from my seat or was I having to close my fingers on the reins? WOW this is a whole new world. Once I was comfortable in the roundyard with myself I decided to head on down to the large riding paddock.

Sam's walk grew larger on the walk down there so I was able to sit deep for a stride and what do you know it shortened! I sat deep for two strides and I got two short steps. I relaxed then sat deep and started to apply pressure with my thighs and he halted. We walked on, past the puddle and then I wanted to go to the riding area through one of the gullies. I could feel Sam starting to slow, balk slightly, I drove with my seat and then bumped with my legs, legs forward keep that lower leg forward Nina. Release the reins when going down so I don't bump him, reins up the neck, lean forward and let him trot up the other side - relax!TRUST SAM! Up Sam trotted and then walked on! He felt a little 'looky' and normally I would be really worried. Sit tall, lower leg back, shoulders back, head back, squeeze your butt cheeks and Sam trotted on, slow your rising to slow Sam down. Not working - check position, still rushing half halt with the rein and there he came back. Concentrate on your position not on what he is doing to a point - Well what do you know with a few figures of eight and thinking about myself Sam started to relax and work a little softer.

I had a canter each rein but really concentrated on myself and made the effort to correct things. I made decisions on speed, where we are going, not drifting out or in on circles and I really noticed a difference in Sam, in his work ethic, he was concentrating on me, we had a job to do and we were doing it! MAJOR DIFFERENCE! I ended the session with walking to a part of the paddock that I am not comfortable with and went up and down a few small gullies. On the walk home I didn't throw my reins at him and tell him to take me home. We changed the speed at the walk. We moved sideways, we moved just the shoulders, we moved just the hindquarters. Nearly back at the gate and we turned back the way we came and started bending around trees, bushes, rein back, forward, sideways. Sam was really tuned into me and I felt for the first time he was really listening and concentrating on me. What a different ride!!!!!! He didn't fuss when I turned him away from home, he was happy to work.

I am really going to concentrate on being a 'THINKING RIDER'! I can't wait until I can ride tomorrow or can I ride two times in one day? :o)


Anonymous said...

Really cool stuff, no?

I'll bet he really enjoyed his "conversation" with you!

Shannon said...

Wonderful! I'm so happy for you!

I love the idea of being a "thinking rider". I've never thought of it that way, but that is the perfect description of what I strive to be. One of the things I love about riding is how cerebral it is. It really is like having a conversation with the horse.

This is a really good post, and congratulations on your progress. Keep up the good work!