On day 2, right after lunch Sue talked about the 'ball'. It's a way to think about your Center and the energy flow.
Imagine that there is a ball sitting in the girdle of your pelvis. You can rotate that ball in many directions. For riding we want the ball to rotate backwards. When I imagined the ball going backwards I sat up more, opened the front of the my body and did a better job riding Carmen's hindlegs. I felt more stable and less stiff. When I imagined it going forward I collapsed. Whether you believe that you have energy currents moving through your body or not- try it as an image, it may help. We also learned about how to be strong with our bodies without being stiff. It was fun.
So the next day it was time to try to put this into practice. Sometimes my ball when bouncing out of my pelvis and landed far away but I could get it back.
|kinda like this!|
Carmen came into the ring not really feeling like she wanted to play. She was being more spooky at the far end and I could feel her thinking that maybe she just didn't have to. I should also mention that with two stallions in the barn she was in full heat and feeling, well, horny. It was sad-everytime the stallion's owner would walk by Carmen would nicker at her (she must have smelled like him).
When Carmen comes out tense and spooky it's very hard for me to not echo how she feels. Sue talked me through it and, voila, it worked:
A lot of her tension left after this.
I worked on remembering everything (ha!) and adding in the ball. I found the ball analogy easy to use and found it wasn't that hard to send it spinning in various ways to move Carmen.
The idea was to also turn without bend. Sue explained (I hope I get this right) that when we try to bend our horses they break at the neck/whither point and we lose the outside leg and shoulder. Which interestingly enough is also what Royce tells me! The outside side of the back doesn't lift and carry- instead it falls away. This makes it impossible to build up the horse's topline. Instead you think of the turn as a series of straight lines and, as the horse adapts they bend themselves and do it properly. I saw it work beautifully with earlier riders, so I was trying that as well. It was going okay until we picked up trot. Sue was working down at A with Cynthia. I was thinking that we would trot a circle up at C (by the far open door). Carmen was thinking that we should be down at A- where
there were admirers it was safer.
As we came across the centre I applied my outside aids.
I tried again
The non-response was deafening.
By the midpoint I could feel Carmen heading left.
I mustered my core and intent and asked for right.
Nope. Not gonna happen.
Then by god we're not going left.
Carmen came to an abrupt stop with her nose inches from the wall.
Well this is a fine mess that you got us into!
Me? I was saying to turn right.
I never heard you. Besides Left was the way to go.
By now Sue has spied us: If the plan fails, make a new plan!
I began to giggle.
Laughter is good! It's better to laugh at your mistakes then get upset.
I regrouped and tried again. This time I gave a little inside rein aid- not to bend but to say 'hello, this way please'. And it worked. Not pretty but it worked.
Can we circle? Yes we can!
I was really pleased with our trot work:
Walk to trot in the beginning can be a bit dramatic- if it's not perfect she will throw her hindquarters in, or if she's feeling fussy she will pin her ears and refuse to go. So this was thrilling to me:
We got into the groove and her ears were listening- she was with me the whole way. At one point we rode by the auditors and a piece of looseleaf came flying out under her feet. She swerved and looked at it but I told her it was okay so we carried on. A couple months ago she would have been down the other end of the arena.
And then we came back without coming against my hand or falling on her front legs (and check out that fabulous saddle pad!):
And that's where we ended. When I dismounted she dropped her head and sighed. I came up to her head and crouched low. She dropped her head down by me and I stroked her face.
What a weekend. I not only learned a ton, but I was able to drink wine, eat good food and talk horses all weekend. We all worked hard but no person or horse were stressed beyond their capacity. When it was time to go home both horses walked right on the trailer. When we got home Carmen wasn't sure she wanted off- she hadn't finished her hay yet. That night when I went in to give them their night feed both of them were looking at me with sleepy eyes and hay in their forelocks. I gave them both a rub and said I know how you feel. I was happy, not at a excited level but at my core. All weekend she was sociable and affectionate. Not the wary and standoffish horse she had been. I was able to use what I had learned from Royce to help her learn that it will all be okay.
Not so long ago I was thinking I would have to sell her. Thanks to Royce and our work she is becoming a horse that it fun to work with and who likes to work.