Obsession: work for solo horse and rider in 4/4, 2/4 and 3/4 time 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

I can hardly remember the last solo ride I’ve taken with Khaleesi. I’ve been blessed with the season of riding friends as some of my favorite riding buddies have been ‘in town’ for the nice weather and for the past 2 years or so Susan has been coming up to ride so regularly that I hardly end up on the trails alone anymore. 

I realized as I headed out that this ride was one of the few solo rides I’ve taken in a long time. 

The things I was most focused on was staying connected the entire ride with my horse (sometimes easy to lose in the fun chatter and catching up with friends on a group ride) and honing some of the Jedi skills I’ve begun. 

Mental intent.

I began by really dialing in on the beats of the walk and feeling the footfalls. 1-2-3-4/1-2-3-4/1-2-3-4 and the rhythm they create always beginning with a hind (right or left at this point). 

I asked for a specific walking out speed to my rhythm and insisted she keep the tempo I chose. I played around with asking for a cross-over to the other side of the trail by timing my leg with the rear foot leaving the ground and got a couple nice ones (I think). 

The most fun was working on my transitions that I’d begun in the rectangle recently and struggled to ask for a canter. 

It’s hilarious really- I learned my canter ask is accompanied by flying out my elbows like I’m about to lift us off with my own set of wings into the horizon!

Oh I’m a sight!

I did it at least once on this trail ride before I caught myself and insisted on quiet arms and hands above the spine. Old habits and all…

But another important thing I learned about myself is that I keep my mind at a trot UNTIL the canter is established. 

How this happens is much more environmental or accidental obviously because I’m behind the action. 

This makes it hard for my horse to somehow know to ‘go before me’ into a canter when I’m still in a trot! 

Confusing at the least. 

So I began to envision the canter with that 1-2-3/1-2-3/1-2-3 strongly in my mind and voila! We cantered off like it was the easiest thing in the world. 

Mental intent. Before physical reaction. Duh. 

Khaleesi is so incredibly sensitive to my mental intent (which I love) but that means I have to be absolutely clear in my mind otherwise it creates confusion.  Too much of that will lead to her tuning me out- which I never want!

I do as little physically as possible and found regularly that I was able to make these changes with little or no pressure from legs or hands (even to stop!). 

So the entire loop home I played around with my time. I walked in 4/4 then picked up the trot in 2/4 and got a ton of lovely canter transitions into 3/4. (With my arms quietly in place!)

Lovely music for an afternoon. 

At the half way point we passed through a herd of sheep! It’s the one thing that still worries her- and the sheep dog won’t chase us but he barks his warning to stay clear and that was our true test of partnership for the day. 

Because of the terrain I got off to walk. The area with the sheep is hilly and a lamb could easily pop out upon us without much warning and she was on edge worried about it. I had a little better leadership from the ground in this case. 

Overall a lovely summer afternoon together and as always a gift. There are so many layers to delve into with my mental and physical riding I could spend days on end at the barn and not run out of things to try. 

But alas balance is also vital! I’ve had some great days at home this summer as well working on my yard and doing some home projects too. I also love digging in at home. 

This obsession must take its turn…

Stay tuned for more on Wild Heart’s progress and what’s going on with Khaleesi’s feet. 

And a trip to Reno to help settle Faygo into her new home with ‘grandma’… (here she is traveling with a very well seasoned endurance crew on a stopover en route this week)

Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

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