“‘I have time’ should be the guiding word especially of dressage riders during the entire course of training and remind him of the fact that the goal of the classical art of riding is to be attained only by the gradual increase of demands.” – Col. Alois Podhajsky
It is always a good reminder not to rush things.
The hardest thing to learn when riding horses is how to relax when everything is going wrong. Tension in the rider makes the horse tense, which decreases their flexibility the same as it does humans. It’s seems nearly impossible to get your body to drop everything and go limp for a stride or two when a horse is in motion. It takes conscious effort. It’s even harder to do when your horse is acting up or you know you just gave the wrong cue.
For me riding is both a metal exercise and meditation. Much of the motions and actions become automatic after years of riding and magical moments appear where your mind slows down, stops analyzing every action and you simply move. Those are the moments I life for. Sadly, all too often my mind is running a hundred miles and hour trying to anticipate how the horse will react, plotting my course around the ring, fussing with various body parts that are too stiff, just slightly out of place, or some forgotten action that I wind up beating myself up over for most of the ride.
It’s hard to let go of mental things as much as it is to release physical tension. And mental tension makes the body tense as well, which makes your horse tense, and creates a vicious feedback loop. That’s when I fall back in to simple small things.
Canter a circle, do it again. Do a simple lead change to change direction. Keep cantering. Count the strides in your head, count the three beat thump of the horses feet as they hit the ground. Let if fill your mind and let your body relax into the motion. Let go completely for a stride, let the motion of the horse put your legs and hands where they should be. Are you centered? Are your shoulders back, chest lifted? Are your joints loose, arms, elbows, hips, knees moving with the horse? Breath. Listen to the beat and keep it consistent. Good. Now look up and out. Away from between your horses ears. Smile, this is supposed to be fun, remember?
The same goes for writing. Sometimes it is a relief to abandon your plans and outlines and schedules and just write. Remember, writing is supposed to be fun. 😉
Inspired by this blog: http://gregghake.com/2013/11/time/