Riding lessons can often be more an exercise in frustration than a step in the right direction.
Case and point:
Have you ever felt like you learned only 1 thing even after taking 10 lessons or more? Or you think you’re doing something right but your instructor keeps telling you the same thing over and over and over to you?
I know I used to.?
So did Viki when she told me about her last lesson. Her instructor kept telling her over and over again to get her leg back, but she was so confused because her leg WAS back. Then, she watched the lesson video and she saw for herself… and quietly said “I wasn't doing it at all.”
Another of my riders, Meg, heard for years that she “perches” and was told over and over again to “get back.” Judges were telling her, too. So she was building core strength, trying her best to fix it. The “hard work” was there, but still the problem persisted. It was only when we got to the bottom of the issue did she say to me “I never knew what they were talking about.”
This is why riding lessons can often be more like an exercise in frustration than a step in the right direction.
In today’s blog post, I’m going to explain the root cause of both Viki and Meg’s riding frustrations and how it applies to your riding too.
But first, an uncomfortable truth:
When we as riders aren’t making the progress we know we can it almost always comes down to what we think we’re doing is not what we’re actually doing.
Our horses can feel it, our instructors can see it, but many times we’re blind to it. Not because we’re not dedicated riders, but because of a very simple concept. Let me explain.
We tend to think of “I know what I’m doing” as the final result. A developed skill, if you will.
Certainly this is true in some way, but what is also true, and routinely gets overlooked, is that riding is like a butter cookie.
Butter cookies are made of what? Flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, vanilla extract…and BUTTER. But what happens when you leave out the butter? Do you get butter cookies? No, of course not! Taste a butter cookie and you just know that it’s the butter that brings the ingredients together as a WHOLE and create the delicious midday tea snack.
So what does this have to do with riding?
Let’s take a look to see what this meant for Viki and Meg.
At first glance, it might seem that they have 2 completely different problems when really it is the exact same problem revealed in 2 different ways.??
They were both missing their “butter”.
Viki wants a long leg, Meg wants a gorgeous seat, and to get there we solved 1 problem. Well, we developed 1 skill...
We developed their body awareness (aka “butter”).
Simple put, body awareness is knowing where your body is in space.
Having body awareness allows you to do three powerful things:
Firstly, when you are fully aware of her body on your horse, problems rarely happen at all.
Secondly, if your instructor asks you to make a change to, say your leg, you know exactly what the instructor means and can do it.
And taking your riding to a whole new level...
You can now have a brand new kind of conversation with your instructor….
”I intentionally placed my leg there to ________ (fill in the blank, ie., move the haunches over). Would you suggest a different strategy to help me balance my horse?”
You can see now how body awareness is the KEY to eliminating frustration and unlocking your riding potential.
As a Guild Certified Feldenkrais PractitionerCM, we have a saying that goes “when you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.”
This couldn’t ring more true for us as riders learning the refined art of riding a 1,200 pound powerful flight animal.
With your new body awareness, you’re free to make conscious choices and be an active participant in your riding - no longer stuck with the wishful thinking “someday I’ll get it.”
And enjoy you can enjoy all the butter cookies you want ??
Now, it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you: Is there something happening in your riding that blocks your progress and enjoyment? What would you like to see happen around that? What would change for you if you had that?
Comment below! I read every one.?
To your riding success,
PS: Know a riding buddy who’s heard the same things over and over from her riding instructors? Share this post with her! We’re all in this together. ??