Today Autumn walked calmly and turned every time I asked her without increasing her speed. Autumn is a sensitive girl, and gives 200 per cent. She has been very rushy, moving faster and faster into each gait. My efforts to direct her energy have met with frustration - hers and mine. My leg on her side has seemed to deliver the message "more speed". Friends riding Autumn have had the same experience and have commented "she doesn't know how to move off the leg."
Today was different. Today was magic. So what happened?
Yesterday I stumbled upon the FREE Chris Irwin training videos featured at horse.com and Stateline Tack. I have been watching his series on Horse In-hand work and started the Riding: Basics series. What I watched today emphasized the physiological movements of the horse, awareness of our own body language and center, and the importance of joining and working with the rythym of the horse's movement. Irwin is an amazing instructor - calm, slow, precise and thorough. I watch him and I get it. No mystical blabbering, very practical and common sense.
So what did I get and how did it work out so that Autumn walked calmly up and down the lane? I attended carefully to the serpentine-like movement of Autumn's head and back as she walked, feeling her barrel bump my legs - right when she was on the right forehand and left when she was on the left forehand. I "expanded" my following seat to mirror her serpentine movement as well as her back and forth movement. Without ever pulling on her face, only using the reins to provide a boundary where I did not want her to go, I simply settled into matching her back and forth and side to side.
I aligned my body and from my core turned, pointing my belly button in the direction I wanted her to go. I was careful to time requests for right hand turn to when she was on her left forehand and left hand turn to when she was on her right forehand. I was off of her face the ENTIRE time. We walked up and down the lane at Freshwater. Never ONCE did she rush forward. There was no jigging or head shaking. She was relaxed and carried her head level. It was an entirely different ride from any we have so far shared.
Am I excited. Heck yeah, can you tell? For those of you to whom this is basic equitation, bear with me. I am SO excited about the information I am able to access and understand as I watch Irwin. His teaching style works extremely well for me. If you are interested in checking out Chris Irwin's videos, click HERE. Happy trails!