Dan and I began the lesson by doing walking awareness exercises, first using the mounting block, standing on it and swinging one leg back and forth. He then told me that one knee was more problematic than the other. I told him to praise that good knee. We then did the Bones for Life bouncing exercise, combining it with neck awareness support/alignment activities. We both then put the traffic cone on our heads, and in this way released old tension patterns, which allowed us both to come into better alignment. Walking on the arena surface, rocky and unlevel in places, was revelatory – way different than walking on a smooth, confined indoor surface.
I next had Dan weave through the buckets, five of them in a straight line with the cones on our heads. And after, I talked with him about the basics of Centered Riding, and had him weave, in succession focusing on the four basics – alignment, breathing, centering, and soft eyes.
I then had Dan walk through the weaves, balancing a ball on a tray.
There was considerable play going on – self exploration – a really good thing. Dan demonstrated to me how his horses walk – in this way he was bringing awareness to his legs. And he played airplane with the ball on a tray, zooming around like he did with his kids – in this way he was playing with his hips and shoulder angles.
Now, in thinking about it, I could have done some things differently. For instance, I could have had Dan walk on the grass. I also could have changed the distance between the weaves. I also could have had him do the other objects in the course with the tray and the ball. I figured this out when he took a break and I began, with ball and tray, to do this myself.
I realized that I learned as much if not more than Dan did in doing the above. One thing for the future is to avoid asking people to do too much. I have to keep in mind that new neural pathways are being formed, and so the body awareness work can be mentally but not physically tiring. In fact, it should not be physically tiring.
I also realized that I need in teaching to be a better listener. Sure, the session was more of a conversation than a lesson. But this is about others, not me. If I talk to much, I negate what I am trying to do, which is assist people in creating their own new neural pathways.
I also realized that those like Dan are rare. He saw the logic behind what I was doing; others might not, in which case I might need to provide more explanatory information.
My most amazing insight came from Dan. I had him work with Raudi after doing the body awareness work because I thought she wanted to work. As it turned out, she was wanting dinner, which was why she was at times inattentive.
I first went through the course I had set up, and at the same time I provided Dan with an anthropomorphic assessment of her behavior. In my estimation, I went through the course entirely too fast – should have slowed down and remained quiet. I said that she was a tough customer, opinionated, and not inclined to lift her feet. I also said that her giving me the eyeball meant that she thought I was full of shit. Nevertheless, this horse, who knows me and is familiar with how I move, did most of what I asked. I also did a good job (as Karol in NY taught me) of maintaining contact with my horse.
Dan then took Raudi in hand. He did really well, mainly making the connections between his own body movements and the body movements of the horse he was walking with. He remained attuned to her energy levels, asking her to speed up when her interest wavered. And he went on and did other parts of the course when she balked after being asked to back through the solid obstacle.
Dan next had Raudi do something that I did not think that she was capable of – which is a Spanish walk. He lifted his legs in front of him, swung them outwards – and she did the same. He also crossed his legs, and she did the same.
Here comes the revelation. After, I said to Dan what I’d said earlier, that Raudi wasn’t one to pay attention to her feet. He then said that I needed to do with her what I’d done with him at the beginning of the lesson, which is praise those legs of hers. Right then it occurred to me that yes, I need to put Raudi’s SUPPOSED short comings out of mind, and rather, see them as potential strengths. Who would have thunk it???
So, in summation, both Dan and I were making self- and horse-related connections, at a speed that seemed faster that light. The lesson ended way too soon for me meaning that I am indeed on the right track in doing this kind of work.
Next: 143. 5/25/17: Nearing a Day’s End