Photo by Margaret Chant and edited by Jessica Metropulos

Monday, January 25, 2010

One of Those Opportunities, Pt I

I'm finding it increasingly irritating that I'm stuck inside due to this weather. It's making my writing material somewhat limited, but at the same time is forcing me to spend more time indoors--perfect for blogging. So today, for your reading pleasure (and since I conveniently left you hanging in my last post) I'd like to give you an in-depth recap of the lesson I had with Kristi Smith two weeks ago, since it was a very neat experience. I've broken the entry into two parts, since I can tell it's going to be long!

Kristi hosted a series of workshops at 7A Ranch, in Oxford IA (about 10 minutes from where she lives) on the weekend of January 10th-11th. Saturday held a set of L1/2 workshops, and Sunday, L3. I reconnected with several old friends, and met some really fantastic people during both days. One of the women in particular, a fantastic gal named Mary Anna, and I hit it off immediately--it was one of those "instant" friendships. I'll give you one guess at to what horsenality SHE was ;) Anyway, she was signed up to participate in all of the workshops, and the communication she had with her GORGEOUS Oldenburg mare was nothing short of amazing. The horse looked at her with the most beautiful expression throughout the weekend, she obviously is someone who has put lots of time and energy into the relationship and Parelli program.

Anyway, I was fascinated with this pair throughout mainly because I couldn't quite peg the mare's horsenality. She looked just so genuinely happy, all the time, always asking questions, playful, wanting to follow her leader always, but wanting to play, too. I guess that's what Parelli is all about, but even so, usually you can pick the information out of the excellence just by reading tendencies. Not the case for me here. Anyway, I digress.

So, come Sunday morning, Mary Anna approached me with the introduction of "I wanna talk to you!"...I still get kind of bracy about that kind of approach from being in high school, but I was pleasantly surprised when she explained to me that she had to leave early to get home, but that she was signed up and paid to ride in the afternoon workshop, and would I be interested in taking her spot with her horse. WOULD I???? And turn down the opportunity to play with such a high-quality horse? I think not! What a compliment!!

I'm not going to lie, I'm always a little geeked out playing with other people's horses that they've so much time on. Not that I don't trust my own ability, but that I feel like the intricacies of the relationship won't carry through. It's pretty irrational, but it happens, and usually I'm a little too light as a result.

The FIRST thing this mare taught me was how to calm down. When I went to her stall, she turned her head and I swear, this wave of just easy, settling energy just washed over me. I was able to relax and halter up, etc. Once in the arena, the goal was just to put the horses through their paces in prep for riding--walk/trot/canter online, over a jump, etc. Five minutes in, and she taught me another important lesson, and that was about true neutral. Neutrality is something I struggle at with home with Prin, my being an extrovert who tend to want, and want it now, and Prin being an introvert who, until recently, didn't uphold her responsibilities very well. At any rate, with this mare, I found that if I didn't totally relax my body, neither would she. And the interesting thing was that even though disharmony with her was NOTHING compared to disharmony with my guys, it was more uncomfortable for me to feel.

I experimented a little with what breathing and neutral in ME felt like to this mare, and discovered that I really, truly had to RELAX my body, breath through my entire core. I figured out that I carry a tendency to inhale and hold a brace my shoulders, as if to say "KEEP GOING!" I really tried to pattern this new feeling into me with this horse once I figured it out, and at home, it's actually changed Prin's entire demeanor at the canter on the circle--I figure "What the absolute worst that's going to happen? She breaks gait?", and she actually really appreciates the attitude shift, and is less prone to break gait. Anyway--I digress again. Lots on my mind, obviously ;)

Anyway, after a little bit of testing the waters, we saddled up, and after a little more moving about, I mounted up.

Cont'd in Pt. II..


Virginia said...

hehe I can relate to the brace and thinking "KEEP GOING!" lol. I totally do that with mable. Oddly, I don't do that with fred because he is so forward anyway he would probably keep doing laps if I didnt ask him to stop!

Lisa said...

have you read Karen Rohlf's book? one of her first exercises is finding neutral - can you send your horse on a circle and move closer to him (not reel him in closer) without it affecting his movement? can you touch him in motion and have him continue as if nothing happened? If not then your neutral is not neutral to your horse. interesting stuff!