Monday, October 16, 2017

Centered Riding Clinic Recap: Day Two


Like the first day, all of my notes are from the unmounted lecture session that we started the day off with, but in a slightly less organized fashion (I was a little sleep deprived and it was an early morning, okay? Haha). So apologies if these don’t make a ton of sense! *Repeated disclaimer: any misunderstanding of the Centered Riding principles can be blamed on me, not the clinician*
We started off talking about “comparable parts”, with a really cool diagram. Horses have corresponding bones to basically all human bones, minus the collarbone (they have a muscle sling where we have a collarbone). 

Judgemental cat is judging you.

Carol also talked a bit about how breathing affects your transitions – during upward transitions she talked about exhaling sharply with energy (like you’re blowing out a match), and then during downward transitions think about exhaling slowly through your lower back (the mental image was that you have two button holes in your lower back/sacrum area that you direct the air out of). It was really neat to practice breathing like this, and then to see it applied during the mounted sessions. I also made it a point to spend an entire ride doing this with Ruby the following week, and she responded really well!
Rode Ruby from the barn, to my house, then back again!
Carol also spoke at length about grounding – that feeling of being anchored, or connected, and how being grounded through your feet when you’re standing can translate into being grounded when you’re in the saddle. She worked with all of the riders during the mounted session to help them locate their “bubbling spring” (a tai chi concept) in the bottom of their feet, and to position their stirrup on their bubbling spring to achieve grounding in the saddle. I will admit to being marginally skeptical about this as well, especially since it seemed to move the stirrups a bit back from their usual position, but it seemed to work for all the riders, and since I wasn’t riding, I certainly can’t actually naysay it with any certainty. I didn’t try this one out on my own later though. 

All three "kids" have been sleeping in the dog house at night and it's pretty dang cute.
From there she moved into riding with clear intent and clarity of purpose. While looking where you want to go was a focal point, it also wasn’t the only way to clarify your intent. A sub-concept during this discussion was that horses don’t understand the word “don’t” – so if you’re riding along and you start thinking “don’t duck out the arena gate”, what you’re subconsciously communicating to them is “duck out the arena gate”. It can be difficult to retrain your brain to focus on what you want the horse to DO, instead of what you want them NOT to do. 

Favorite musical freestyle from IALHA Nationals last week -- how frickin' cool! (and they ended up winning, whoo hoo!)
Other miscellaneous phrases that I jotted down without any further context -- Your horse feels you think. Quiet riders move, not sit still. They allow their body to be moved by the horse, giving the illusion of stillness. Your body lies to you. IDK where I was going with that last one, I’m sure Carol had a good point but I apparently got so interested I stopped writing, and now I have no idea why I wrote it down… haha (story of my life!).

Overall it was a really interesting clinic and I had some useful takeaways. I hope all of the riders (especially the two riding my horse haha) had a good time and learned a lot. I would definitely audit another Centered Riding clinic, and I would consider signing up to ride depending on whatever my goals/current training level were with each of my horses.

16 comments:

  1. Cool post, much to think about...and I agree about the freestyle winnee..classy!

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  2. Sounds like a great clinic! Very cool to have access to something like that.

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  3. It sounds familiar. As for your body lying it has to do with muscle memory and 'feeling comfortable'. So you know when someone says 'sit back' and you're all 'I am sitting back' but your really leaning forward and then you sit back but now you feel like you're leaning backwards but really are vertical? It's that. My left hand lies to me all the time. All.the.time.

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    1. That rings a bell, you're probably right! And I have the same left hand.....😂

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  4. I like the idea of centered riding but the way things are described do not work for my brain. I do much better without the abstract.

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    1. Yeah some of it I really got, some of it.... Not so much? Haha

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  5. I'm a fairly uncoordinated person (which is hilarious considering riding is all about coordinating various body parts). Timing my breaths has been hard but I've definitely noticed a different in the smoothness of downward transitions with gentle exhale.

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    1. Yes that worked wonderfully for me! (Also I am SUPER uncoordinated so I am glad it's not just me haha)

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  6. I've heard the bit about "don't" and negative talk in general with respect to our subconscious mind...have to make it a positive statement to be able to move forward. Not surprised CR has adopted that also

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    1. Yeah you could definitely see the effects of some negative thinking in the beginning of the rides and then it was awesome to watch how the mindset (and then the actions) changed!

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