THINGS I LOVE TO DO #1: RIDING HORSES
Riding a horse is so fun and out of the ordinary for me that I totally forget about being right – for a few moments. Yesterday I had my second riding lesson in classical dressage with the amazing Elizabeth Reese and Sadie, her beautiful horse, at Cloverdale Farm in Warwick, NY.
Sadie is a great-grand-daughter of Secretariat!
Elizabeth gives private lessons in the Alexander Technique and classical dressage, and also is part of a team leading clinics in Postural Rehabilitation for horses and dogs. Her work with horses has profoundly affected how she teaches the AT, and the AT has profoundly affected how she works with horses.
Yesterday I learned that the most important thing when riding is to STAY ON THE HORSE! Seems simple right? But my natural response, when Sadie started to move, was to stiffen my arms and my back and pull back on the reins. It was like being on a rolling mountain! Plus when my butt started to get sore I wanted to lift up and shift around in the saddle. Unfortunately, stiffening and shifting around results in what Walter Carrington called “punishing collisions with the earth” and the horse – and a sense of disconnection which makes it hard for the horse to know where you are.
Sadie is so sweet (and practical) that if you stiffen or shift too much, she will just stop and wait until you get your bearings again. She never ignores you. You could say that “right” is your connection to the horse.
Once I found my balance and was able to stop bracing, my pelvis reconnected with Sadieʻs back. She could feel my weight, and I could feel the ground through her whole body – the powerful spring of her feet against the earth – and I felt stable enough to stop pulling back on the reins. Liz would say “focus your attention on where the ground is. Itʻs the one thing that you and the horse have in common.” The split second I shifted my attention to the ground, Sadie sprang into forward motion! IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE FEELING, like being on a mountain as it transforms itself into a wave!
The right way to ride a horse is always changing!
THE RIGHT WAY: (CLARE!)
ANOTHER RIGHT WAY: (MEET ELIZABETH!)