Horsey Therapist

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snowy ride, PT in the saddle

I rode Soli today after some ground work with Sofia then Rusty. Snowy, soft terrain. Chilly and silent as dusk settled.

I was thinking about what I read recently -- a clinic report by someone who was with Mark Rashid. She described being in the round pen with him and following his movements as he worked with her horse. She mentioned his movement was continual and smooth and every moment of it intentional, so I was trying to keep that in mind when I moved around with Sofia then with Rusty. Awareness of flow when I'm doing groundwork will keep improving as I put my attention to practicing it. Meanwhile I move with staccatos and commas, to mix metaphors.

I was focused with Sofia on her understanding just where I was wanting her body. I am working on consistency -- both consistency from day to day with a horse, but also consistency from horse to horse with what I expect. Again thinking provoked by something I read about a Mark Rashid clinic.

I have tended to let Kacee come in close without waiting for permission or invitation. I have tended to allow a couple of horses to bob their heads when I remove their feedbags. I am challenging myself to see if I can expect the same from all the horses, rather than let my emotions steer me to offer affection more than clear boundaries. Mark speaks clearly about this -- that in herds, boundaries are a very important element, high on the list of what needs to be clear between horses. Affection is low on the herd list. We humans do it differently, and yes, we humans tend to get in trouble around horses!

The ride on Soli... well, I was feeling a little uncertain so I chose him rather than Rusty. Soli can fill in a LOT. I just needed him to fill in a little so my confidence would reappear which it did. I had my cowgirl plan -- go gather some fencing materials from the neighbors' field that we used when we still had cows. My plan was foiled by a gate frozen into the ground. I was unable to budge it although I could rock it back and forth. I need to time my next attempt with a thaw. Or get permission to approach that field from the other side.

That did nothing to spoil the ride though. Leaving fresh tracks in 6-7 inches of snow is special. And our return trip gave me the opportunity to criss cross and doodle in the snow like I would with paper and pencil.

Then we went out for a trail ride, the usual local loop.

I played around with influencing his feet with my thought, like thinking/feeling the right hind stepping further under him for a leftward diagonal walking stride or two, and played around with breathing the upward transitions and seeing if I can feel the change of rhythm first then follow up with the usual aids to bring us to trotting together. Some success. I am remembering to have patience and expect changes not perfection today.

PT in the saddle? Well, more than that really. Adventures in awareness... I was letting Soli swing my body. Soli is a short, stocky Haflinger, built like a tank really. My first ride on him a few years ago left me hurting from the stretch and the movement! Now I can let him rock and roll me while I put my attention on the swing and drop of my hips, and the swing of my shoulders, and the timing of the two. Then I remembered the front of my shoulders, and realized that I tend to be aware of my back, and so I let my awareness passively include the front of my body. It was something hard to put into words, but a feeling of a whole body, back front sides -- all my skin as one flexible three dimensional magnificent living sensing organ...

So, not just PT, but also meditation in motion.


At 06 December, 2007 20:17, Blogger Victoria Cummings said...

What a lovely image - You and Soli in the snow. He sounds like a good boy. As you mentioned Mark Rashid in the round pen, it reminded me of Kathleen's photos of him in their new book. Smooth, slow, soft, easy - I've been making that my mantra.


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