The Road to Learning to Ride is Long and Winding

I do categorize my lesson today at a good one, but it was very frustrating.  I started out not being able to turn.  Barbara’s telling me a ton of things to do but none seem to be working.  I finally get him around a turn where I had him right (reaching with his inside hind into my outside rein) and then I felt the step where I lost him.  I immediately stopped, turned to her, and said, I didn’t understand why I lost him or how to fix him.

She told me that as frustrating as it may sound, she cannot teach me how to fix him.  She can tell me the different things to try (ie, more inside leg, widen my hands, etc) and she could give me exercises to use, but that I would have to learn the feel and the timing of the tools she’s teaching me.

We switched gears and started doing squares with rounded turn-on-the-forehands in the corners.  One thing I was doing wrong was pushing without allowing PJ to answer.  I just kept my leg on pushing instead of putting my leg on and taking it off in rhythm. I kept holding my outside fist without relaxing it.  Once I started pulsing my inside leg and outside rein, things improved immensely.   I should have known better.  Barbara has never taught us that it takes force.  And, I had just read (and reviewed here) that book by Michael Schaffer that was based on the concept that you cannot force the horse to do what you want, you must teach him instead.  However, I still allowed myself to get frustrated and try to man-handle him.

Bottom line: 1) Riding correctly is not a question of strength other than being able to hold your position (which takes a lot of strength) and move your body parts.  2)  Ask and allow the horse to answer; don’t keep asking, thinking the horse can change his position/stride/speed/etc while you’re nagging him. 3) Sometimes you need to relax to be most effective.  I’m sure I’m missing a lot.

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