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January 16, 2016: The Neural Pathway not Taken

. . . I am wondering if a connection might be made between being a riding instructor and being a rider. Could it be that neural pathways are formed when we (instructors) see tension patterns in riders, have them release them, then later, release similar patterns? Of course, I’d like to think so.

I now know what a neuron is, and that there are three types – bipolar, unipolar and multipolar. And I know what the component parts of these neurons are (cell body, axon, and dendrites) and as well, the physiology involved in transmitting an impulse. There are chemical gates, and ligand gates and voltage gates, and there are synapses

and synaptic clefts and the like. I also have a pretty good idea as to how nerve impulses are generated.

Today is indicative of the fact that I am making the instructor/rider connection. Raudi and I did really well together, but in part this has to be attributed to my near obsessive, no call it obsessive focus on body awareness training – right now the Feldenkrais work and the internal martial arts training. This though, is just partially it.

Pete and I got the horses out fairly early this morning. We’d planned to go out for a short ride, but Raudi indicated to me that she wanted to keep on going when we got to the Mud Pit/Lower Loop Trail cutoff. I had to be at the Saddle Up arena at 1 p.m. so I was sort of pressed for time. But I agreed with Raudi that we should keep going, which was what we all did.

We went about a half-mile further than planned. At one point I dropped Tinni’s line and had to retrieve it. I did this by backing Raudi around him, so I could grab it. And this is what I did. She backed and sidepassed. On the ride home, Raudi and Tinni walked at a fast pace but there was no feeding off one another, as in you go fast and I will go fast and you go faster and I will go faster. Rather, both horses ambled along contentedly.

Several times, all three horses (Little Hrimmi included) snorted softly. And so did I.

No agility today, instead I headed for the arena. Quite the crowd showed up – all people I know well – the Lemays, Claudia and Frank Sihler, Heather Ashe, her son Rio, and Dick Stoffel. All brought their TRAIL horses. All the horses were energetic and in good health.

I had a plan, sort of. This is because it’s really hard to have a plan when you have seven trail riders and seven horses, two of whom are thinking about their babies back at the trailer. So I divided us into two groups – first had the females work with Claudia who does clicker training, and the males work with me and Kenzie, one of the Lemay kids. I asked the guys to ride together, but oh no, they jumped around like crickets, as did their horses, and began working on going over and around individual obstacles. So I bounced around like a ping-pong ball, going from one rider to the next. I was all over the map – I did not go into depth with anyone about anything, except clear intent – telling riders “Tell your horse what do – be specific, and he will do it!” Once again, I got looks of disbelief. But heck, it worked.

Claudia and I then changed groups. I was equally at loose ends in working with the gals. Claudia’s horse Giff was really wound up – I encouraged Claudia to continue to work with her on trotting – “Just let her go!” I said. And Heather’s horse Rio was a tad bit anxious. With Heather and Tyler, her son and secondary rider, I too did some shakedown exercises. And with Renee, I told her that in time, her very young horse Rowdy will move – that her long pauses are just related to inexperience.

Today I determined that I will continue to praise people for doing something minimally, that is if it something that they need to be doing more of. For instance, I at one point yelled out “Claudia, I like how you are sliding when you are cantering.” Sure enough, she accentuated this movement.

My first realization was that there have been many important realizations, this being because I am putting myself out there by instructing whenever I get the chance. My next realization is that the more people you have riding, the less overall improvement you’ll see, or should I say, the less expected overall improvement, meaning hat that people will, on their own, do things they would not do if given individual instruction.

Next realization – trusting the basics – soft eyes, breathing, centering, alignment, grounding, and clear intent – works. I don’t have to give riders a dozen orders, just one at a time.

Next realization – I can get along with just about everyone if I go with the proverbial flow. Some might think they know if all, so I no longer try to convince them otherwise.

Next realization – I need more instructor-related feedbacks. Update clinics are useful, but in and of themselves are not enough. I need to work with someone who knows more than I do. Clear intent – build it and they will come.

Next: 17. 1/17/16: A Conversation with (disgruntled) Raudhetta

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