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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Emerging from Chaos

To say things have been crazy lately would be a gross understatement.  Kind of like saying the surface of the sun is a little warm.

I'm not sure how or when things fell apart.  Nothing catastrophic, mind you.  But when disorder creeps into my existence, it creates a perfect storm of introversion, procrastination and OCD.  The result - I become an ostrich with her head buried in the sand.

But it's getting better.

I've done little with Cricket.  I've done less with Bleu.  Most of my energy has been devoted to LillyToo.  LillyWho?  No, not horse #3.  Good Lord, I'm not that crazy.

Lilly is a coming 4yr old QH mare belonging to a good friend of mine.  We've worked out a deal for Lilly to stay at my barn and get a bit of a groundwork foundation and get her ready to be properly started under saddle.  I know my limitations so I have no intention of putting a leg over this mare's back.  I'll take responsibility for screwing up Cricket but I won't add another to the list of casualties.

I have to say I'm totally in love with Lilly.  It's a good thing she's short or I'd be tempted to steal her.  She's a lovely balance of all the horsenalities.  She's forward but not a run away.  She's playful but not a total pest.  She lacks enough confidence so as to look for leadership but she's not worried and fretful.  She pauses to think but her introversion is shallow and she digests thoughts very quickly.

We have two main issues:  maintaining connection between her brain and her feet in motion and looking to the human for guidance/leadership.  Both are coming along so nicely.

I'm glad the days are getting longer and warmer.  I cannot neglect Cricket and Bleu just because a new project has come along.  I can only avoid "middles" for so long!

With Cricket my current plan is to abandon all formal groundwork.  It's not getting better, in fact it's getting worse.  So we're taking long trail walks with a savvy string fashioned into a collar and a feather line for a leash.  We're playing at liberty with the clicker.  I want to ride but I just don't want the pressure of my freestyle audition right now.

I want to start riding Bleu.  I've not really taken her out of the arena since last fall.  I need to see if she helps my confidence for trail riding.  If not, I'm not sure what I'll do . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

Neither Pleased Nor Satisfied

I am in an unhappy place with my riding.  Not with my actual rides, with my riding in general.

I feel as if I don't have general control over Cricket's direction and speed.  She doesn't get the whole idea of "maintain gait, maintain direction."

The litany of reasons for this sad state of affairs is a long and pathetic one.  Cricket's bucking, my confidence; Cricket's headshaking, my confidence; Cricket's dominance, my confidence.

It seems she has all these little ways of putting me just enough on edge that I don't push the issues that need to be pushed.

Horsenality is not an excuse. It is a piece of information that gives us a strategy.

How much have I not been taking this to heart?  I am still making excuses for Cricket because she's a smart, LBI.  I'm still using the excuse that she's a LBI to cover up how much I hate repetition and pattern work.  But here we are, preparing for a L3 Freestyle audition and I cannot elicit a consistent trot or a rhythmic walk.

I think it's time for a warm glass of "suck it up and deal with it."  I think it's time to get serious about pattern work.  She's done great with the FTR and Corners Game.  It's time to take it to the next level and start tackling the Cloverleaf.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Learning to the Left

My latest endeavor in the spirit of never ending self improvement: Learning to write with my left hand.

The main reason for this effort is to try and narrow the gap between the proficiency of my right hand and the awkwardness of my left.  It was real but negligible before I broke my arm; it's significant and more inhibiting since.

I hatched this idea a few years ago but never really followed through with it.  More and more I'm becoming aware of a strong preference for my right hand.  My stick is almost always in my right hand, I feel more nervous following the rail to the left and I seem more unbalanced cantering on the left lead.

I was in physical therapy on and off for a year trying to rehabilitate my left wrist after the break.  While I regained more mobility than even my doctor expected, I'm left with permanent limitations.  I decided to learn to write with my left hand as a low-stress way to become less one-sided.

I bought one of those writing tablets.  You know, the kind little kids use when they are first learning to write.  I started out the same way my Mum first taught me to write.  I printed out a neat row of  upper and lower case As with my right hand and then neatly traced over them with my left.

I have about 3 pages of As at last count.  The upper case was fairly easy but the lower case is quite troublesome.  Changing the angle of the paper, adjusting my grip on the pen - nothing seems to make the letter flow easier onto the page.  Each attempt is awkward and ugly.

I began to think about this project in terms of my horsemanship.  After all, it started as a way to improve my overall tool handling skills.  So how could I use what I know from my Parelli journey to improve my penmanship journey?

I started acknowledging the things that were right.  I identified the element of the letter that was plaguing me and instead of writing "a" I focused on just the oval, repeating the circular motion until it felt more natural.  Oddly enough, by the end of the line I had several left-handed letters that looked remarkably like their right-handed counterparts.

I am finding this little project to be more intriguing and revealing than I could have imagined.