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May 19, 2017: The Horse Life: Build it and They Will Come

The closer one gets to realizing (let’s say) their career goals, the more defined those career goals become. I am an excellent example of this. When I was doing jumping lessons at Beth Theisen’s, I one day wistfully said to her “I’d someday like to be a riding instructor.”

That summer, I came to realize that I was a returning rider, which is an individual who stopped riding in my late teens and returned to riding at a later age. And I saw others, on the outside edge of the arena, who I suspected harbored the hope that they might someday again ride. And so, my more defined goal became “I would like to someday instruct returning riders.”

I eventually became a Centered Rider. My goal then became to work with those returning riders who were interested in learning to ride with me focusing on the four Centered Riding basics.

I next began taking Feldenkrais and Internal martial arts classes because this was what Sally Swift, the founder of Centered Riding advocated. My goal then became to work with returning riders who were interested in learning to ride with me focusing on the four Centered Riding basics, emphasizing Feldenkrais and Internal Martial arts techniques.

Reread and insert Bones for Life training in the above statement.

I in time took to agility like a duck to water – and shortly thereafter my goal then became to work with returning riders who were interested in learning to ride with me focusing on Centered Riding basics, emphasizing Feldenkrais and Internal Martial arts techniques – starting first by doing agility-based groundwork.

All good in theory. I had, in figuring out the above, connected the dots. My having done the internship and in particular, worked extensively with Karol McCarty at Hillcroft Stable has enabled me to start coloring in the picture.

Karol did with me what no other instructor would think of about doing, which was a LOT of ground/body awareness work. She had me walk around with a pyramid on my head, and a ball on a tray. We also spent a good portion of an afternoon with her instructing, and me pushing a wheelbarrow. We also did agility with Gabby, a Halflinger who is a dead ringer for Raudi. And I rode Gabby and Raleigh, both in and of themselves great teachers. By the end of my stay (which wasn’t quite long enough), I had a more solid sense of teaching self.

I think that Karol and Sally Bauder would both agree that the best instructors are those who are constantly learning, and constantly making self and instructor horse-rider-body awareness connections.

I was told by the Centered Riding evaluation committee that I needed to better internalize the principles of Centered Riding. I would like to think that they told me this because they saw a good but want me to push myself to become a great instructor. Most likely they saw an older, inept returning rider – but I am going to stick with the former statement because I believe that what we envision is what comes to be.

Amazingly, I now (three weeks after the update clinic) feel like I really am internalizing the principles of Centered Riding. For instance, the day before yesterday I gave Pete a lengthy lesson, one in which I had him weave through buckets, focusing individually on his breathing, soft eyes, center, and alignment. And I had him individually do this with the cone, tray, and wheelbarrow. I did not say what I saw, which was that there was a change in his alignment and vision. This was because I wanted him to figure this out for himself. I then had him do this with Hrimmi – and after, no surprise, the two had the best ride ever.

And yesterday, I rode Tyra. She who is just getting her riding legs was resistant. It was walk, halt, walk, halt, walk, halt. I found myself getting frustrated. And she too got more frustrated. I finally reached into my took box and began drawing upon my Centered Riding training. I made my eyes soft, I did the down and up breath that Sally Bauder taught me, I focused on rolling the ball in my center. I worked on becoming more vertical by raising my right arm and lowering my left leg. And in response, Tyra moved on, nicely. She stopped, and I did this again.

After a few times I dismounted and gave her a treat and praised her, making a big deal out of her accomplishment. I knew though, that this was not just her accomplishment, that it was also mine. I had finally taken what I’d internalized as a Centered Rider and for the first time ever, externalized it.

If briefly, I had experienced the feeling that Tom Dorrance talks about this in his books; I think he too is getting at what this is – felt sense. This too is what Mark Rashid is getting at – and Anna Blake.

After, I did not have the best ever ride on Raudi – we had some ups as well as some downs. Felt sense – it is going to come and go, but if I am patient, there will be more coming than going.

Self-stories – they are so important. Riders learn by example. So my self-goal is now this – I want to work with returning riders who are interested in learning to ride, with me focusing on the four Centered Riding basics, with an emphasis on Feldenkrais, Internal Martial Arts, and Bones for Life modalities. This training will also include agility-based groundwork, which will take place on the ground and also in the saddle.

There you have it. This is now my teaching-related goal. Important to add, that this didn’t come about in a single day. Rather, it has been four years in the making.

Next: 138. 5/20/17: Insomnia

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