Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Power of a Plan

So I think it's finally hitting home that I need a plan. And not just a plan for today or tomorrow but a plan for the journey. Even if we have to deviate at least, as my dad says, I have something from which to deviate!

Of course the Parelli's have taken care of the hardest part when they created the Patterns kits. It's a ready made plan in all four savvies. How much easier can it get?

Well the hardest part of any plan is follow through. When I bought the patterns I watched the On-Line DVD and skimmed the rest. I unfolded - and then promptly refolded - the maps. I put the pretty books on my coffee table. Apparently this is not exactly how the Patterns "work." A couple months ago I took the maps to FedEx Kinko's and had them laminated to protect them. I then rolled them up on my desk. I piddled with the Patterns but never felt anything spectacular.

Last Thursday I went to Office Depot and bought a big presentation tri-fold made from foam board, some double sided adhesive and some binder clips. I then mounted my Patterns maps on the board. It's pretty cool. I have all four maps and I can fold the board closed to protect them.

This past weekend was a rare event in a Southern summer. We had a weekend with highs in the low 80s with nice cloud cover and a beautiful breeze. I feel for those in coastal regions but sometimes hurricane season brings lovely weather to the Tennessee Valley.

So now that I have my Patterns where I can properly access them, I went out on Saturday and Sunday to play with Cricket with a purpose. We spent a little time in the paddock playing Touch It on the 22'. I've decided to play with the L2 On-Line patterns and see where she was. She was fairly introverted so I just matched her energy and allowed her to graze at each obstacle. She was rolling the barrels and picking up the cones so I figured that was good confidence. On the last barrel, I asked her to trot the last half of the distance and she did. At the last cone she touched the cone and then moved over to me as if to say, "What else do you have?"

I decided to work a little tune-up on our circle game. I sent her back 6' and sent her and touched where I wanted her not to be. WOW! She went out with energy, picked up an easy canter and just loped around me. We did a couple changes of direction and she was throwing FLC at me, one right after the other. We did some quick changes and she was doing little half-rears and jumping from one side to the other. When she was done, I looked at her and asked to see her LBI union card. No self respecting introvert would have been that dynamic! We called it quits and I let her graze. I needed to guide some people at the barn out on the adjoinging property so I took her out on the 22' and did some Z3-5 driving. When we arrived at the far field, she chose to doze next to me rather than graze. She offered me some lovely walk -trot-walk-halt transitions from Z5.

Yesterday I started back with my riding lessons. It's not so much to "teach" me to ride but to help me figure out why what I'm doing isn't working. My instructor is my best friend and fellow PNH student. I decided to start with the L1 Freestyle patterns. Cricket and I have some serious holes in our under saddle foundation. We started with slow walk, fast walk on the rail and then moved to walk-trot transitions on the rail. I discovered how deep my lack of trust ran. When I added clarity and authority to my corrections, Cricket offered some lovely relaxation.

I am experimenting with a different seat position. My Pilates is illustrating how the Parelli Balance Point idea is actually rocking me too far back and locking my lower back. The lower back has a natural curve and to access the full flexibility of the sacro-iliac joint, that curve needs to be maintained. It doesn't mean the traditional English "duck butt" but it's more on the seat bones than behind them. Cricket likes it, I like it and we feel more balanced an able to move together when I have a more classical seat.

So I've marked off two days of my On-Line patterns (day two was warm up before riding) and one day of my Freestyle patterns. It feels good to start on this journey and I just hope I can maintain the discipline to continue.


Tina said...

I've been realizing that my lack of a plan is hindering our progress as well. I have my patterns maps laminated, too, but I copied and shrunk them first so that they'd fit on the door of my tack shed. I don't really look at them, but they're there. What I use more are the copies of the self-assessment tasks that I have stapled up. That helps me come up with new ideas and realize where we are or are not making progress.

I was interested to read about your change in position...I find the "balance point" riding somewhat strange and foreign. Perhaps it's just that I haven't had enough practice yet. I don't completely sit back on my balance point either (I don't think) I have a more classical position as well.

Lisa said...

I like the Patterns because they give us consistency and it's a way to spiral upwards. I've done way more with Cricket than the L1 Freestyle Patterns but going back is helping establish better trust between the two of us. After I play with the Patterns, I play with some other things. I think I might get the self assessment sheets laminated and put them up at the barn. I board but I sort of have the run of the place!

I've never felt comfortable on my Balance Point. I just don't feel like I'm moving with my horse. The human spine has a natural curve - outward at the shoulders adn inward at the lower back. Flattening the back locks the spine and doesn't allow it to be flexible. Honoring the natural curve allows the true core stabilizing muscles to come into play. My Pilates sessions have really helped me better understand correct posture. It helps that my Pilates instructor is also a L3 student and has been riding since she was 3.

Tina said...

I've laminated the self assessment sheets and copied the maps (I shrunk them 50%) and laminated them all as one big chunk. I LOVE having the assessment sheets for when I don't have a lot of time or need some verification that we're making progress or get bored and need some new ideas.