Friday, April 18, 2014

Two Hands Forward, Put Your Legs Back!

Words to the wise: full time training for your pony  is costly (though in all honesty my trainer gave me a stinking deal because I'm broke), is time-consuming (if you like going to watch the training rides like I do), and is addictive (oh, I'll just do it this one month... but wait, I want to perfect his canter departs!).

Barn kitty says "leave me alone human scum!"

So what is happening in the world of Gavin and Erika?  A lot of progress!  I went out and watched my fine equine get schooled on Tuesday.  He was a doll throughout the entire ride.  Soft, ear-radar on, forward, engaged, and his canter... ooooooh his canter.  It's a thing of beauty when he gets it (which I believe will come with practice and the furthering of his athleticism).  I swear, when I watch him canter (more so in the ridden canter than a free canter) his legs look about half a foot longer than they actually are.  He just has so much lift, and really gorgeous action.  Sorry, I'm trying not to swoon.  It isn't all roses and puppies in this post.  Glenda (trainer) and Gavin would do a canter circle, two or three trot strides and then pick-up the other lead on a new circle.  He did shockingly well, considering his issues with picking up the canter.  And the ride ended on that note.  Gavin stuffed with sugars, and Glenda and I raving about how well he did.

The next night was alllll me.  This is going to sound like a whole lot of foofy-hippy-shit, but I've been doing visualization exercises at night before I go to bed.  I spend five minutes with my eyes closed going over in my head my "perfect practice".  Basically, I imagine in great detail the sights, smells, sounds, and feel of what success on Gavin would be like. 

I'm still in the process of reading and digesting the Jane Savoie book "It Isn't All About the Ribbons" and she discusses visualization as a great tool to overcome issues.  Apparently the Russians did an experiment where they had groups of athletes.  One group did ONLY physical practice, while others did varying degrees of physical AND mental practice (their "perfect practice").  The athletes who did a combination of both, with MORE mental practice performed better than the other athletes.  The thought here is that your subconcious mind does not know the difference between actually riding a horse, and riding a horse in your mind.  When you ride in your mind you have the added benefit of making it less stressful, and you are able to practice perfectly.  My boyfriend has actually mentioned this practice to me before, though he did it on his own without a book prompting him.  He used it while learning to snowboard.  He imagined what the snow would feel like under his board, what resistance it would give, how he'd have to move to manage that resistance.  My boyfriend -- a visualization pioneer ;)

Anyways, so I've been working on my perfect practice, specifically related to my hands.  I would imagine posting, and how my hands would have to move to follow the contact.  It is extremely difficult for me to imagine (shit - I'm an accountant!!! I barely have any imagination!!!), but I'm definitely going to keep at it BECAUSE without me asking, with no prompting at all, my trainer mentioned during my ride on Wednesday how much better my hands looked.  I was freaking beaming with happiness!  Of course, though my hands looked better I couldn't get Gavin to canter without running him into it (damn you legs - STAY DOWN!!!).  So now I have two things to visualize: following hands, weight in my stirrups at the canter. 

My boy after our ride on Wednesday


  1. You and Gavin are going to keep progressing and are going to astound yourself and others with how well you do at the shows, ribbons or no! Can't wait to see you guys ride again. 4 weeks!

  2. I really believe in the visualization aspect! I'm glad it has helped :) Good job on the hands!

  3. I love following your progress. I know the canter you're talking about. His siblings have it too. Gorgeous! keep up the good work!