Last Sunday, as our horse time was coming to a close, Phil went around and asked us each if we were clear on what we could work on at home until our next clinic. I thought this was a great touch to help keep us focused and heading forward on our journey. I am just remembering now, that after I told him my ideas, I should have asked him if he had any other suggestions……a learning experience. I will include that question in the next opportunity we get.
My homework with Petey was to help him be more forward in his movement. I also had some homework for me, which goes right along with the homework for my horse. As we were riding during the weekend, I was realizing that I got tight, or even locked in my body, when I would concentrate on doing something. This is a dynamic that I really want to change. I chose to work on that as my own homework.
I have had three opportunities so far to practice on my homework. The very best part is that it was fun! I saddled Petey and got on in the indoor arena. We walked around in there, and then around outside in the front yard a bit. Petey had a pretty nice walk, and I was practicing keeping my hips and seat loose and following. What I was hoping to do was just keep on offering both of us more opportunities to develop new and more helpful muscle memories by enjoying our time together and releasing physical tension and blocks.
I do realize that some physical tensions can be caused by mental tensions, and also that releasing the physical tensions can help relieve some of those mental tensions. Many years ago, I attended a conference on compassion fatigue, and the presenter taught us an exercise to help with mental tension that involved relaxing the pelvic area. He also said that horseback riding was a great way to fill up when you are finding yourself depleted from helping others. No surprise that I thought his ideas were brilliant and wonderful! This fit perfectly in my plan and would allow me to put some of the water back in my well, so to speak.
One thing I have already discovered is the importance of giving myself enough warm up time. I have always understood the importance of that for my horses, and I need to put myself on that list. Time to “get here” both mentally and physically isn’t important, it’s crucial (borrowed that from Bryan Neubert. He caught me off guard more than once in April when he would say that timing wasn’t important………. (dramatic pause)……..it was crucial.) The less that I am focused in the present moment, the less present I am for my horse. It feels to me that if Petey is willing to put his trust in me, then I have to prove myself worthy of that trust. And, trust was the biggest take away from our homework for me at this point.
There are some hilly areas in the pastures. I had been directing Petey toward the flatter part of the terrain the first two days. He got some up and down over the terrain, but nothing really steep that I just thought would be too much as he was adjusting to moving differently and having my weight on him. The third day, I asked him to go down an area that had a bit more of a slope than we had been walking over. I gave him his head completely and we started walking down the hill. I could feel him becoming less balanced, and let him make the choice to turn right and where the ground was a bit more level. He validation my intuition, and I let him make a decision that felt better to him. It sure felt like a win-win from in the saddle. I think some of what is helping Petey and I to become a team is that I do listen to what he’s telling me. Guess that falls into that trust category :). Really looking forward to continuing with our homework. The best and most fun homework I’ve ever had!