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October 13, 2018: Hanging out with Centered Riding Instructor Susan Harris

I seem to be having a harder and hard time, when travelling, in making transitions. I don’t know what gives. I find that no matter how simple it may be, that I’m dreading leaving where I’m at. And so, I’m now wanting to do longer vacations in which I stay in one place rather than go several places. The problem with this is that fretting about what’s to come is diminishing my energy. I am even like this on the home front – If given my druthers, I’d just as soon stay put rather than have to go out and do something.

Susan Harris picture of  river crossing horses
Susan Harris picture of river crossing horses

I think that going to one place new is still fitting in with the definition of travel, which is something I’ve always and will continue to enjoy doing.

Today I went from where I was staying, Hillcroft Stables, in Schenectady, NY to Susan Harris’s place in Cortland, NY. I wanted to stay at least another night at Schenectady and perhaps watch and take another lesson with Susan. This would have at least in my mind been ideal. However, Susan was eager to get home. She’d recently been in Germany, taking a Centered Riding instructor class, and I think wanted to be back at home for a bit with her two kitties.

Before we left, Susan gave three lessons, I was first; I rode Gabby, Megan was second; she rode her horse Bear, and Carol was third; she also rode Gabby. In between the lessons there was a lunch break, with lots of talk about horses and instruction.

I don’t have problems making transitions when on horses.

There is a saying, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In my case, this cliché expression was a truism. My 1 ½ hour lesson turned out to be the best I’ve ever had. I had beforehand, prepared myself for this. I first rode under Karol’s tutelage, and during the lesson noted that Susan addressed some of the issues that I’d been struggling with, this including the use of my hands and legs. I suspected that my seat was okay, because the focus was not on this.

I also paid very close attention to Karol and Susan’s lessons with others, by putting myself in the frame of mind of the riders, instructors, and horses. I also took notes. All this required considerable focus and had left me happy, but tired at the day’s end.

And last night, I wrote down in my journal a list of things I wanted to work on, and this morning I mentioned them to Susan. My main question was this – how does one make a horse more forward? To this end, I wanted to know if I was in the correct position when trotting on the trail. And also if I was doing Pilates breath (inhaling and rising up) correctly.

When I got on Gabby I felt the same way that I now feel when I’m riding our horses – confident, calm, and capable.

At some point Karol remarked that she recently figured out that she was turning the ball in her center forward instead of backwards. I immediately realized that I was doing this, and I mentioned this to Susan, who said that this is common in those who like me, pitch forward and crunch stomach muscles when fearful.

Susan worked with me on the above. Additionally, she worked with me on getting Gabby to move forward by using my leg aid and the crop, first noting on a scale of 1-10 how much pressure this required, then gradually reducing this pressure.

Way fun, transitioning from two point to posting trot and back. And I connected even more with Gabby when I let my legs go rubbery.

I discovered that, overall, I was on the right track; additionally, timing was key. Speaking of being on the right track – Susan showed me a cell phone photo of a horse looking down a railroad track and suggested that I picture this in combination with clear intent and keeping the horse going straight. This worked well at the walk and trot with Gabby becoming increasingly more energetic rather than less energetic.

Gabby finally indicated to me that she wanted to canter and Susan then agreed with Gabby that this would be a good idea. Well, I was all over the place. In retrospect, I would have done better if I’d brought the train track image back to mind. Well I’ve now internalized it, so it is there.

My higher degree of confidence gave me much needed mental flexibility. I had no qualms about asking Gabby to do as asked even though sometimes the way I asked didn’t appear to be text book. But then, transitions of any kind are never fully text book.

Next: 287. 10/14/18: More Tennis

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