A lovely article was published recently in The Chronicle of the Horse titled Don’t think, just do, and referred beautifully to the virtues of leaving thought behind and going on autopilot.
Wonderful indeed assuming that one’s autopilot has the needed experiences to draw from for the task at hand. Autopilot is a cultivated resource that, like a well, is a deep reservoir where experiences gathered from various situations during various conditions are held for future use. It is not a magic bullet that some have and others don’t.
So how is the autopilot well filled? Is it simply the amount of time spent in the saddle or is it less quantitative than that?
I would say that if it were simply a matter of time in the saddle more riders would progress more quickly. The resource available to riders to amass the autopilot resource is awareness.
Taking time during each ride to notice small differences, such as is the lower back free to move or is it being held tightly, and the big differences they make, floating over a jump or being left behind, feeds your brain with the information needed to fill the autopilot well.
This way, each ride, every ride, enriches the rider’s autopilot resource so when the time comes thought can be put aside and autopilot can let them fly!
Recently, on their Facebook page (July 26, 2013) The Chronicle of the Horse posted "Calling all the equitation riders..." to give their most dreaded exercise for improving their position.
Many riders responded giving one exercise or another, but what struck me is how riders simply expect improvement to be painful - tortuous even.
The missing piece in these dreaded exercises is that improvement is being sought in the rider's body not the rider's awareness. Focusing on the body simply pulls and tugs the muscles and ligaments this way and that. Yet, with awareness the rider finds the habit that creates the difficulty, and finds new ways to coordinate movement. This brain-body integration takes the rider from habit to choice with the result being that the rider understands how to melt into the horse - and it is a pleasurable process for both the rider and the horse.
Believe it or not, I had scheduled the workshop and class series 3 Keys to Hip Comfort for a Deep Seat before this Facebook post, but feel it is indeed timely. If you want the torture to end, if you want to tap into your ability to make it easy, see below for the details and join us.
The Chronicle of the Horse, July 26, 2013 Facebook post shared on my page Heather on Facebook.
As riders, to get the most from our time with our horses, we focus on what happens during our saddle and barn time. Yet, what we do away from the barn has as much, and possibly more, effect on our enjoyment of horses.
A prime example of this is high heels. Wearing them from time to time is no problem. However, spending day after day in them, even if you are mostly sitting versus standing, will wreak havoc with your back and balance. Then getting into the saddle with these injuries, yes I do mean injuries, will not be enjoyable to either you or your horse.
Please consider that work place attire and fashion sense can include attractive shoes that are kind to you. Also, whether you wear high heels or not, spend a moment everyday doing a few of these movements:
- Sit with your feet flat on the floor;
- Bring the front of your foot away from the floor a little then return it to the floor;
- Bring your heel away from the floor a little then return it to the floor;
- Bring the front of your foot away from the floor a little, and make a circle in the air, go in both directions;
- Thinking of a peg between your big toe and your second toe, slide your heel right and left.
- Wiggle each toe individually.
Enjoy – these small movements will make all the difference to your feet, legs and back.