My trail ride on Sunday seems to be having lasting benefits. I am more confident even when Rocky is not, and I am more forgiving of losing my good seat from time to time because I notice it much sooner and correct myself. Riding Majestic for two hours gave me a lesson in what trail riding is supposed to be, so I have a much better sense of when Rocky and I are “doing it right” and when we aren’t. And conversing with the wrangler helped me stop thinking so much and just give my body time to learn.
It took a year of Thursdays for me to be able to pick up a new line dance within two songs (even though I don’t remember it afterward). It took several Pilates sessions for me to even begin to breathe into the back of my lungs while engaging my pelvic floor, zipping my navel to my spine, and pulling my lats down to my hips.
But one thing I did in those activities that I don’t think I do enough in Freestyle riding is I keep at it through the initial awkwardness. I typically ride 20 minutes, maybe 30; these past couple of days I’ve gone for at least an hour. Rocky has much more exuberance in his walk when those arena gates are open and he knows we will go in and out of them.
Now that Rocky is feeling so much better, we’re raising the energy in our on-line and liberty sessions as well, re-doing the level 2 patterns to add the trot back into our lives. That in turn is giving me a better sense of how to match his energy. This weekend Pat said that neutral is not letting all the energy out of your body, it’s matching your energy to the horse’s energy. That makes sense in retrospect but I didn’t get it before and have been taking my energy aaaaalllll the way down, which I now understand is a release, not a neutral.
Today’s session is going to be mounting and dismounting only, once from the left and twice from the right, although I’m not going to tell him that. I’ll put his boots on, even, as I think last night I overdid the bare feet on rocks thing. I could tell his feet hurt (but his back seemed okay) when I turned him out. But given my schedule and my desire to keep things provocative for Rocky, it’s a good day for a short ride — so short that he just has to stand still. And I think it’ll blow his mind to be all saddled up and then be done in five minutes. Certainly I need the practice at mounting from the Indian side.
Some new stuff I’ve done recently:
- Put Rocky in the ditch and mounted from the uphill side.
- Remembering more often to bend to a stop with one rein rather than use both reins.
- Felt the difference between threshold spook (fear) and pretend spook (dominance), and responded accordingly.
- Find everything funny rather than go all intense about what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it.
- Started figure 8 freestyle pattern although only at the walk for now, due to wanting to get so solid in my seat that I am begging to trot before I actually trot. (This is the equivalent of practicing the basic Swing step until I’m doing it in my sleep, before getting fancy with spins and dips — and if you do practice the basic until it’s completely muscle memory, the embellishments come easily.)
- Taking him out to the round pen.