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January 31, 2016: Sunday at Saddle-Up –Post Idea Day

The thing about idea days, as wonderful as they are, is that one cannot subsist on them. Otherwise, the one coming up with the ideas would be called “Bullshit artist,” a dubious title with a dubious distinction at best.

There are and there have to be post ideas days, which are those days in which one acts upon the ideas that materialized during the course of the previous ideas day.

A long time ago, I accepted the fact that in acting upon ideas, that in acting upon them, some would live up to my high expectations while others would not. Truth is, no matter what, acting upon given ideas is (no matter what) damn hard work.

Today is a good example of this. Okay, there was that original idea, which was to tell people that I’d be at Saddle Up arena on Sundays, at 2 p.m. This was an idea that came to me on an ideas day. My thinking was – build it and they will come. In other words, if I told riders that I’d be in a set place and location that they’d come ride.

On the first Sunday, which was about a month ago, four riders came out of the woodwork. The following week there were six riders. Then eight. Then nine. And today, ten riders. That’s double

Alys helping rider with her seat

Kenzie and Tink

digits. This was in addition to the handful of ateliers that appear just to ride, and not for instruction.

Ten riders. Idea generated on an idea day run amuck. And the plan I wrote about on Thursday – my wonderful idea about putting theories about energy and soft eyes and internal and external awareness – it ran amuck a little slower, but as for this being the framework of a lesson – hahahahahahahahaha. And would you like fries with that?

I typed up my notes on the two subjects and after a late start (not my doing) ran it by the Lemays – Leah, Kensy, Dan, and their riding buddy Payton. All the while I talked, eyes were wandering. Actually, this was a good thing because I was bringing the subject of external awareness to their attention. Yes, they were scanning the arena, and keeping an eye on the horses, all of whom were either in round the pen or tied up. As I was talking, Dick and Heather showed up. So those in the second group were early and some those who were supposed to be in the first group were late. I told the latter to wait and ride with the second group. As you who read Thursday’s dispatch recall, I had planned on using dialogic teaching—asking each rider to articulate their energy level and that of their horse. I quickly discovered that my asking this question took the focus away from equally important, which was the use of clear intent. What to do? I spent considerable time with Group 1, just muddling along.

There were some brilliant moments with Group 1 – Leah learned some about being proactive and how to use the arena space that was unoccupied by other horses. Dan was able to articulate what his immediate goals with Rowdy were, Kensy did a good job of maintaining energy equilibrium, and Payton did a really good job of keeping her horse at a steady pace when she was cantering.

And Dick, who ended up riding with Groups 1 and 2, learned a bit about the halt, and thinking in advance as to how he might get the desired result, meaning, breath down, lower his weight, think halt. This was actually a learning experience for me because I had never before thought about what one does prior to halting, or that the hula hoop might useful in showing people how to do this.

Group II consisted of three new riders – Susan, Colleen, and their friend Kerry Rose, and regulars – Heather, Dick, and Claudia. That was six riders total. Again, as previously, I gave Group II a sit down lecture – I’d forgotten to do the shake out lecture with Group 1 – but I did remember to do this with Group II. I think it makes a difference – the riders are more relaxed from the onset. I again worked with Dick on halting. I worked with Claudia on tolting – we didn’t get the desired results, but I did tell her in the meantime what she needed to work on – the answer for her is sit bones awareness and body alignment.

I looked around while I was working with Claudia and saw that Susan was careening around the arena on her pinto mare. I asked her if she wanted feedback – she said she wouldn’t be able to process much. I said “that’s good to know,” and continued from there – bringing her attention to her breath and her soft eyes. The mare was still flying around, so I had Susan circle her, repeatedly, then let her go forward, circling when she again appeared as though she was going to take off again. This worked. I went from there to doing the lesson I did with Dick and halting, with Colleen. She swore up and down that she was not stopping her horse with her reins, but rather her seat. I thought otherwise, I could see it – so I ignored what she had to say, and gave her simple directives, i.e., breathe, think about where you are going to stop, wiggle your fingers and toes.

I most enjoyed working with Kerry Jo – she and Susan told me that she’d been given erroneous feedback previously – Kerry then went into chair seat, by way of example. So we went back to the beginning, and I gave her a Centered Riding lesson, going over the basics and providing her with some images. The coolest thing of all was that she picked up on clear intent, and as I was walking away, continued to practice this.

As you can tell in reading the above, I strayed from what I was originally going to do today, which was to focus on soft eyes and internal and external awareness. However, I did once in a while return to this plan by asking riders, “What’s your horses’ energy level?” “What is your own?” And “How do you bring the respective energy levels up and down?” My plan for next week (and I am already working on this) is to give the riders some specific ways in which they can bring the levels up and down.

Once again, it was affirmed in my mind that clear intent actually works. At one point I had three horses going over the bridge, right in a row, and three riders, one after the other, saying to their horse in very declarative voices “we are going over the bridge.”

Next: 32. 2/1/16: Cerebral Interlude

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