Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer of the Horse: The Saddle Is No Place For A Wimp

Today's high praise from my riding instructor, Dawn Helm, was "Good for you. You're not being a wimp."

I hadn't expected to write anything about my latest riding lesson because we're just working on the fundamentals and practicing them over and over, but as I wrote about in my last post, learning to ride is as much learning about yourself as it is about tacking up and posting and stopping.
Today Dawn called me out on a lifetime habit of not pushing myself hard enough.

"Don't stop. You've got to learn to listen as you ride. You've got to learn to adjust your feet in the stirrups as you ride. Every time you stop in the middle of your learning moment, you lose momentum."

As I write that, I notice that moment is the beginning of momentum. There is a moment, which becomes a bigger moment, which becomes that -- whether it's courage or confidence or ambition or stubbornness or maybe even ego -- which propels you forward into doing more and doing better.

So I had to "suck it up, buttercup", as my friend Jane would say, and not stop to regroup or rest or think things through. I had to keep riding and figure out how to get my shit together whilst in motion.

Dawn also realizes I am a perfectionist and my stopping was as much about my frustration with not getting the rhythm of the posting trot. She understands how I learn, that I need to take in information and work through it, picture it, even, before I can learn by doing it. After that, though, she wants to me think in my stirrups and not give up so easily.

Hence the high praise today when I just kept bouncing in the saddle, trying to find the post, and adjusting my feet in the stirrups when I was using my knees instead of my weight to stay in the saddle, and closing my eyes to feel the trot -- feel it -- feel it --

"Yes, you're doing it! Keep going!"

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