Focus leads to feel which leads to timing. I don’t have to expect myself to get all of these going well right away.
My lesson started with some ground work as I was practicing sideways without a fence and Erin gave me some tips on how I was confusing Rocky with conflicting messages. Then I got on from the fence. He wore a bareback pad over a western saddle pad.
I babbled and passenged and got more comfortable over time. It reminds me of how my male friends react when I teach them a basic swing or salsa dance step. “It’s so awkward! I’m so uncomfortable! I’m inherently not good at this! Everyone is going to know what a klutz I am!” And then I say “mmm hmmm and you’ve been doing it for 90 seconds. When you’ve had as many hours at it as I have over the past 20 years, you’ll be as comfortable with it as I am, other than the fact that I wanted to learn and you fear to learn.”
The Spanish Riding School doesn’t let you off the longe line for the first six years. ~ Erin Murphy
The aspects I struggle with are akin to those of the beginning dancer as well. I need to keep my eyes above my shoulders, not look down. I need to trust my partner. I need to follow my partner’s motions. I need to keep a strong core and an independent everything else.
I figure I’m a Level 3 dancer but I started at Level 1 — and in fact, with a partner I probably would be a Level 2 dancer, as I have never had a partner who dances other than a few stand-in beginners when I had a short series of lessons. I know how to follow but I’m not very practiced at it. (“Why do girls love horses? Because even male horses love to dance.”)
Closing my eyes as a passenger revealed that I hold on with my eyes. Erin did small, gentle yo-yo games while I passenged with my eyes closed and boy did it feel different. I felt like I leaned to the left then slipped over to the right — while he was standing still. I felt the first hint of motion sickness but it went away when she reminded me to breathe. I really want to do more of this as even just a few minutes showed me how effectively this will develop my feel.
I don’t trust Rocky enough. This makes me sad but I’m glad I noticed it and am facing it. But he can be reactive and even though I trust Erin as she plays with him on-line while I passenger, I got twitchy. I want to do more of this so that I let go and trust him more. I know that when you extend trust to a well-meaning being, that being strives to continue earning that trust. And Rocky is very well-meaning.
I chattered to Erin the whole time because I have her focus for that hour and I want to get into her brain as much as I can. We talked about horsenality and some of the qualities that I thought were extroverted, such as how his life comes up with accelaration, are actually introvered. It goes along with the tense-freeze-EXPLODE behavior that shows up in more extreme right-brain horses. My LBI might actually be innately RBI!
I very much look forward to the personalized horsenality report that Parelli is releasing later this year. I feel like I can adjust to any quadrant but I need to do so through the filter of his innate horsenality, and he’s too evenly spread on the horsenality chart for me to tell. Erin’s feedback is invaluable, because of her experience with hundreds of horses over 20 years, and she sees things I can’t. For example, I’ll think we’ve got something down, and she points out the brace.
- Practice focus. Play point to point. Whatever my eyes see first, like a gate post or a tree branch, keep my eyes there no matter what happens, and get there, and rest for 10 seconds or so.
- Practice balance point exercises. I tend not to roll back far enough, so it’s ok to exaggerate rolling the pelvis back a bit more for now. My core engagement is really good but I need to do a little more cat and a little less cow. I found an interesting page to study about how the horse balances and how the rider can and should help.
- Practice yo-yo from all zones when on-line and straight yo-yo while riding. Rocky didn’t know to back when she wiggled the rope while standing at his side. He kept offering sideways game, which we appreciated, and then Erin persisted with the y0-yo.