Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Many ways of seeing the same

A silhouette of a drunk man shows clearly at the end of my path. It's a quiet, early morning sporadically broken by excitable voices of children on their way to school. The distance between myself and the drunk man decreases with every power step I take. I am watching him as I try to predict which way the percentages in his blood take him next so I can move onto the opposite side.

Just as we are some 20m away from one another, he looks to his left, his weight shifts slightly to that side, his right leg, as if by magic also drawn to the left, crosses over towards the aim of his gaze. To my dismay, his next step and the next one are an exact copy of that first one.

In a beat as regular as ticking of the clock and with the jointless fluidity only drunk person can master, the man half passes himself directly onto the road  (no cars approaching), moves several steps straight parallel to me and then proceeds to look right and half passes back onto the pavement to end up behind me.

Neat.

Mental note to self: read more un-horsey books and try not to see people's walking patterns as dressage movements.

Now, how adorable is this chap! I have never known a horse that loved attention and hugs as much as Teddy.

Instruction Manual of Ted: 1. Walk up to stable door 2. Hug . Yes, I am wearing an exercise sheet that normally is used on horse's back. It made for a great waterproof cape during on/off showers today ;) 

I've been thinking today how easily the same instructions mean so many different things to different riders. When I am in the arena, I can address anything unclear very quickly, encourage the rider to ask questions and find their own ways of understanding the movement or build awareness.

The reason it has been on my mind is due to the popularity of one of my recent posts on my coaching blog ( the one titled: The Forward Thinking Hand...) . The post describes an exercise-experiment which I have done with numerous riders over the last few years but I have never written it down. The reason being - it's very hard to describe sensations and riding feel. As many people have now shared the article on Facebook, I got to read some comments their friends left under the shared post.

At first I did question my judgement. You see, I do like finding parallel "feels" for riders who might not ride several horses a day, few times a week... The catch with my ideas is, they require a detective like approach. They ask for trial and error, for coming up with own solutions.

One comment especially made me think a lot. Someone said they didn't think exercise worked for them because as they tried it, they felt tension in the arms. The funny thing in this exercise is, that's exactly what it creates at first. In fact, it mimics the issue many riders have on a horse - they ride with very tense arms...Then you need to figure out another way of moving, shifting weight, directing energy via different technique in order to arrive at almost no arm tension at all.

I thought, perhaps I shouldn't have written it all down. Then again, it seems to be helping many riders and I have received very positive feedback on it also so my next thought was, perhaps I need to learn to word the explanations better in the future. Find a way to ensure a potentially good idea doesn't kill itself.

And then the third thought...perhaps like me seeing drunken men half-passing around the street, we simply process different concepts differently and that is okay :) I've concluded that as long as it helps some riders who clicked on the article, the mission of the blog is accomplished.

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