This is a repost from my Barnby Notes journal. I’ve decided to transfer the entire series bit by bit to my new blog. Enjoy!
December 1, 2012
It’s difficult to wrap myself around the fact that it is December already! Seriously, where has the time gone? One of my resolutions for this year was to focus on ‘being in the moment’. I often find my mind drifting, making plans for the next day, week or month rather than just enjoying the time that is now. Life requires a certain level of planning and I am a Type A on the scale of organized person; however, it does not need to fill the greater part of my day. Do you find this happening to you during your rides? What percentage of your ride is spent on thoughts other than what your horse is doing right now? I have found that when my mind is distracted either internally or by external forces, I tend to lose my grip on the now. This is a source of immense frustration because I have planned (yes, this is my trend) in my mind what parts of my ride I am going to focus on today and try to improve. I plan what it is going to feel like (is that even possible?), what issues are going to occur and even visualize the end result. Ta-da!
Well, life just doesn’t work out like that SO I crumbled up that plan about a month ago, threw a huge party for my previous (years of) tendencies and then showed them the door.
My recent rides have been based on what am I feeling right now. It’s not so much of a question that I ask myself because if I did ask myself that question while riding I would perhaps miss 30 seconds of possibly the best movement offered by my horse during our ride. It is more about quieting my mind down and just absorbing the feel. In order to put this into practice, I have changed my riding schedule, the time of day that I ride and selected movements that I ask my horse to perform. She gets worked every day of the week with the exception of Mondays (day off just to be a horse) and I ride her 4x a week. I chose early morning even though it is slightly preposterous to get out of a nice warm bed on a frigid morning. My mind is fresh, void of most distractions & spongy in the morning. Quiet solitude! The movements selected are the ones that seem naturally easy. I will begin adding in or substituting other movements once I have trained my own brain to accept this new way of learning.
At this stage, I can reasonably expect to keep my mind relatively quiet for 15 minutes… any longer and I start looking for distractions. Following a ‘let’s get our blood flowing’ warm-up on a loose rein, I start my horse on a pattern (typically serpentine loops) she is most comfortable with. I don’t plan ahead for what develops out of this pattern. On many occasions, my horse simply ‘tells’ me. For example, yesterday her canter was very lofty with distinct rhythm. I could feel every beat of the canter. I could hear her footfalls. I felt evenly balanced and aligned in the saddle. She felt so light and free in her body that we connected to the space we were in. The air we were moving through and the ground that we were on. Have you experienced this feeling recently?
As we were riding a serpentine loop to the right, I felt her lift her shoulders up and collect from behind. In response, I dropped slightly more weight into my right stirrup while keeping both legs long and steady. She responded by shifting her weight to the right. I half halted and we simply skipped into the left lead canter after applying a gentle leg aid. The canter out of the change was of the same quality going into the change. It all melted together and flowed. Flying changes are her addiction. Of all the movements, she gets the most joy out of her flying changes. Thinking back, her flying changes albeit clean seemed to be missing something, but I could never put a finger on it. We continued on the serpentine loop and did 4 more changes which turned out equally fantastic and then called it a day. What a calm nurturing feeling to have this experience. I encourage everyone to go out and really feel your rides in the now and not think about the past or future.