Friday, 10 June 2011

Brain (re)training

Here is Merlyn in his field after we rode today, him enjoying the sun, me (out of shot) all sweaty from a forty minute lesson with Carolyn which involved some serious brain re-training. The more I learn the less I know, I am finding and also the more I want to try to understand.

There is a rather impolite expression which would articulate what today's lesson did to my head, which I will spare you, but in co-ordination terms it felt as unnatural as patting your head and rubbing your tummy does the first time you ever attempt it.

Here was the source of my confusion. I was taught to apply the leg aids in completely the opposite way from I have understood pretty much my whole, albeit intermittent, riding life.

While circling and turning Merlyn I was asked to apply outside leg on the girth, inside leg behind the girth. Every time we went up the centre line to hear 'circle left' or 'circle right' I had to fight every learned riding instinct in my body to make the switch. I would just about get it straight in my head, when she would flip it around and shout 'circle right' and I would have to mentally have a whole conversation  with myself saying 'okay, I am going right, inside leg to outside rein,  put your left (outside) on the girth and now move that right (inside) leg back a bit.....'

Now I have to be completely honest and say I lack any of the horsemanship to understand why one method is right and the other wrong, but I can tell you it really did mess with my head. I suspect this was a tailored piece of advice to correct something in most likely me (or perhaps horse) rather than a general piece of advice, but I have to quiz her further on this.

Now and then when I feel a little demoralised at my lack of flair or my complete confusion at right-from-left-hands-higher-hands-lower-bring-your-knees-in-get-off-your-knees-bottom-back-bottom-forward-inside-leg-on-the-girth-behind-girth type of advice, I have to check myself and think "what would I tell my child" and answer "you can get better at anything with practise". And then to remember to make sure I am setting the bar at a level that I have a chance of some success.

Carolyn says "I don't expect you to ride at my level, but I do want you to ride at your level well" That would be a start, I think.

Love that shiny bottom ....I think we are bonding, he and I.


  1. I have really decided that the aids I use now are correct (because my horses do exactly what I am asking) but I stopped thinking about what I was doing. I just let it come and naturally it works. I know that I do what I could do on a barrel in water or on one of those styrofoam colored "noodles" in the swimming pool to make them go this way or that. If you had to "steer" them, what would you do. That is what I do on a horse and it works!
    Thinking sometimes gets in the way of feeling and communicating with your horse.

  2. Thats's a great analogy...the funny thing is that what I was asked to yesterday is exactly that, it is just the fact that it's the opposite to what I (and most people)are taught?

    I am going to try what you say, I like the sound of it!