April 3, 2017 1 Comment
I’ve been reconnecting with my riding lately in a way that I haven’t for a long time. Life has been busy, and full of distraction. Forcing myself to into my own head, into the Zen of being present with the horse, and really riding – managing every stride, keeping shoulders and haunches straight, maintaining tempo – has been extra challenging lately. There’s a lot of background noise continually threatening my concentration.
Just like with life, it’s easier to simply be a passenger, but when you pick up the reins, put your leg on and take control, you have a better ride.
At the gym in the morning and at the barn at night, I’ve been making a point of really making myself sweat. No more zoning out on the bike, no more checking out mid-ride. I’m paying attention.
More often than not, since Fred isn’t yet up to strenuous work, I focus on myself. That means keeping my core engaged – continually. Or dropping my stirrups and posting, not sitting, keeping leg pressure on, staying balanced, light on his back and not pinching with my knees. I force myself to work, and to pay attention, not letting my leg dangle, or my core relax. And it’s showing in the ride, because Fred is improving by leaps and bounds, despite not being a leaps and downs sort of guy. The evidence? A line of new muscle along his top line, and a new eagerness to work. He feels better, and I’m getting there.
“Ride the trot you want, not the trot you have.” Christy is all over my case, not letting me accept “no” from Fred when I ask for more length in his stride. But instead of going to the whip or nagging him with my spur, she’s requiring us to develop a response from my seat.
Ride the trot you want, not the trot you have. It’s a tidy analogy for life, too. On that note, I have news of an upcoming change involving a tough decision. I’m moving, and am moving the horses with me. We’ll still be in the Chicago area, but both Jag and Derby will be relocating in May to a barn about 20 minutes from where I work. At this point in time, I need my life to be a bit more contained. Getting the ponies closer to work will be a huge step in the right direction.
Moving Fred from Uulke and Jag from my friend Jeff’s place is wrenching – both horses are doing so well, and seem so happy. The place I’ve found has lots to love – a field full of elderly pensioners who are glossy and in good weight, lots of different turnout scenarios, stalls that are spacious and airy, gorgeous hay, bridle paths for out-of-ring hacks — lots of comfort for the creatures. However, this will necessitate a change in trainer, and I’m gutted. Christy and I are hatching some other plans, but for my regular work, I’ll be trying out the trainers operating out of the new place. In the meantime, I’m jamming as many lessons into the schedule with Christy as I can. She’s switching gears on me, determined to make me more self-aware and self-correcting, more responsible. It’s hard, requiring vigilance and attention, but once you start to pay attention, your adjustments start to feel instinctive, reflexive, even, and I’m getting more of that trot I want.