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

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thinking, Thinking, Thinking

Man, this stuff is HARD!

I had my Centered Riding on Wednesday.  I opted to ride Cricket.  While Bleu is just lovely, I think she needs some time off so I can work on strengthening her back, independent of a rider.  I've been having jolly fun with Cricket so I assumed this would be a walk in the park . . . or arena.

Principle #2: Make no assumptions; teach no assumptions.

Cricket was great through the tacking up process, standing ground tied in the alley way.  No flags popped up during our brief warm-up and she was accepting of the mounting process.

And then it went south.  Thankfully not too far south but south, none-the-less.  She popped in a little buck.  No worries.  Another little buck.  Okay.  And then again.  Uh oh!  As she was only increasing frequency rather than intensity, I decided I was okay to stay on.  After her fourth mini-tantrum I stopped whatever my instructor was asking me to do and did some intense "yield the HQ."  Both directions, with some intention.  I was a little upset but not angry.

After that we kept everything at a walk and really made Cricket THINK!  Lots of curves, turns, circles, serpentines.  Doing what ever we could to keep her brain engaged.  And it worked!  Not once, for the rest of the lesson did Cricket act out.  She was only resistant when I became demanding, grabby or pull-y.

We concentrated on connecting her thoughts to her whole body and then connecting her hind legs to my hands.  I'm not sure how, exactly, we accomplished this but it worked.  I felt her energy coming into my hands and moving forward.

Mimi had me work on leg yields - coming into the quarter line off a circle and then yielding her towards the rail.  Out of the dozen time we tried it, I really got it once or twice.  Some pieces would fall into place, others would fall out of place but a few times it all came together.  On the last yield, I asked Cricket into the trot as we came to the wall and she picked up a lovely collected (as in not scattered and strung out) trot down the rail and to the center line.  We finished with a near-perfect square halt (front AND hind) and called it a day.

My biggest struggle in all of this is really understanding rein connection.  What Mimi is teaching runs counter to some of what I learned in Parelli.  Maybe not to Parelli itself but at least to how I've learned and understood it over the years.  I am trying to wrap my head around how the inside rein and outside rein work in concert to set-up and guide/control the horse.  I can feel it work.  I can feel my horse understanding it and responding to it.  But I'm not making the connection between what I'm doing and how/why that's influencing Cricket the way it does.

Time for a little LBI research . . .


Susan said...

Two questions.
One. What are you going to do to strengthen Blue's back. I frequently lose my confidence in how strong (or weak) Pie's back may be.
Two. Can you explain how you are being taught to use the inside and outside reins the way you mention in your last paragraph?
I went online and did a little research on Centered Riding but I have so many books that I want to read right now that I am not allowing myself to buy another one.

Lisa said...

Parelli has a program called "Hill Therapy" that uses circles on hills or over cavaletti to cause the horse to step up and carry himself better. I'm also looking into other ways I can cause Bleu to better work over her back. We'll see how that works.

I don't know if I can explain it because I don't quite understand it! Basically the inside rein invites the horse into the bend but the outside rein controls the horse. In the leg yield, I used the inside rein to maintain the bend from the circle but the outside rein slowed forward and rebalanced Cricket into a slower walk.

Right now it's all a bit "magic" to me and I need to learn more.

I totally LOVE the centered riding and we have a wonderful instructor who is coming down once a month for lessons.

Susan said...

Pie's home for the past year (and hopefully for years to come) has a field that they use in the spring, summer and some of the fall that has a big hill. I love it because if they want to go play and graze in the big part of the field, they have to go down the hill. If they want to come in or get a drink, they have to go up the hill.
I like the idea of doing circles on a hill.
Good luck with the centered riding! It sounds like a sensible approach.