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February 13, 2016: Centered Riding: Life Affirming or Life Changing?

In relation to the above question, I have done some deliberating. Up until now, I did not want to seem overly effusive about the mental and physical effects of Centered Riding on me, personally. What has happened, all of it positive, has now got me to thinking that for me, it has been life changing.

Today is an excellent example of this. This morning I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and went to internal martial arts class – on Saturdays it’s held downtown, on the second floor of what we call the Colostomy Building. The start time is 9 a.m. This is easier to deal with than the 7 a.m. classes -- I attend them on Mondays and Wednesdays, anatomy and physiology class days.

Raudi and Alys on Ice

Anyhow. There were about a dozen people present, a handful of whom I now know. And it was a relatively easy session. We did warm up stretches, four simple standing poses, and some tai-chi type moves. I did, as I always do, required some adjustments. As usual, after I bounded out of the room.

I came home, and shortly thereafter Pete and I decided to do the Loop Ride, a distance of approximately seven miles. We decided to do it backwards, this way we’d get the harder stuff, which is the overflow area and bridges, out of the way first. Plus we would be going uphill, which would force the ponies to do some work.

As always, I felt a bit of trepidation prior to starting out, and for this reason I suggested to Pete that we instead do the Grizzly Camp ride. I didn’t make my concerns known to him but instead said “Okay,” when he said “no, let’s ride the loop.”

So off we went, in hobbit-like fashion. I started out walking Raudi and Ryder; I did this because I was concerned that if I rode and walked Ryder that she might dart out at a truck or car. One truck did pass and Ryder did leap out at it. The rest of the walk went smoothly, in part because I practiced my breathing, raising and lowering my energy level.

I mounted up and let Ryder off the leash as soon as we got to the trailhead. I then fell in behind Pete, Tinni, and Hrimmi. I was okay where I was, but Raudi let it be known (by pinning her ears back) that she wanted to be out front. Raudi gets what Raudi wants, so we changed places when we got to what we call the Corridor Trail, a straightaway on the White Highway that is often used by snowmobilers. She started out at a very fast walk (I call it her officious walk) but did not attempt to go any faster or bolt. Still, just in case – I spent time picturing the sun in my lower belly, took in yellow chi, and envisioned myself as being like a spruce tree.

The spruce tree imagery often comes in handy; several times, for instance, like when crossing the narrow bridges, or going downhills. “No problem today,” I repeatedly chirped.

When finally, we came to the icy overflow area, I lost my courage and hopped off Raudi. I immediately wished I’d stayed put because quite clearly, she knew what to do. She lowered her head so as to keep her balance, and made her way across the long pale brown ice/slush patch. I leaned against her for balance – it was like she was my service horse.

I got back on her when we got to the far side of the frozen pond, and Pete took several photos. Unbeknownst to me, he had been taking photos all along, that is as he was riding Tinni and ponying Hrimmi. Brave man.

We continued on. We encountered two female bicyclists – one introduced herself as the woman who the other day attempted to fly past us on the recently groomed trail. This time she stopped and attempted to explain why she was in a hurry the previous time, saying that she’d needed to pick up her child at day care and she was late. I told her she needed to be careful because horses do spook. My words fell upon deaf ears because later on we met up with the pair again, and as before, she attempted to fly past us.

And two snowmobilers encountered us. This was near a blind, uphill turn. The first machine, which was being driven by a woman, and had a kid as a second passenger, did not slow down. The second, which was being piloted by an adult, followed suit. Ryder gave chase – I dropped Raudi’s reins and ran and got her. Not so amazing, Raudi stood still and waited. There was a time when she would have high tailed it for home.

The rest of our White Highway ride was blessedly uneventful. Once in a great while, Hrimmi would stop and Pete would have to take a moment to get her going again. I then worked with Raudi on backing, walking fast and slow, and going downhill nicely. She did speed up going down what we call Hrimmi’s bypass, but I was, a bit further on, able to ride her down some inclines without using reins.

It just amazes me how well WE are doing. At one point I recalled being fearful a few years back about this, the Loop Trail. I then usually rode Tinni. Today I rode Raudi and was actually disappointed when Pete said no to riding up the Grizzly Camp Hill as we were riding by closer to home.

The change on my part and on Raudi’s part is due to the fact that I’ve internalized the tenets of Centered Riding. There are no longer any moments of confusion, fear, apprehension, incomprehension, or abject terror on short or long rides. In essence, I’ve now connected with Raudi, something that previously seemed like it was not in the cards.

Tomorrow I’ll go for a short ride because it is going to be a lesson day. I just know that those I’m working with don’t have it in them to do as I’ve done, and invest considerable time and energy into becoming more adept riders. But in my own way I’ve at least let people know that yes, indeed, it is possible in embracing the basics and beyond of Centered Riding to become one with one’s horse.

Next: 44. 2/14/16: Born Loser

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