I rode in a clinic this past weekend that has completely changed my entire way of riding. The clinician had this incredible way of breaking down riding into a completely cerebral activity which it truly should be but in a way I never thought of before. Yes, we have to be aware of our surroundings, what our horse is doing, and what our bodies are doing along with the cause and effect of our actions, but to what degree?
Sandy took it to a level that I completely understand and in 3 days, Koda was moving like a completely different horse. It is incredible.
I am a very cerebral learner, I like to think on things and then go and do them. Give me imagery, metaphors, any type of language you like, and I'll pretty much latch onto it and fly with it. What I came to realize through this weekend (and which Sandy saw the moment he saw Koda) is that I can be a very forceful rider. I've been riding Koda with too much everything, except for leg. For those who know Sandy, you know you can always have more leg! I was too active in my hands, seat, body, everywhere, being too rigid and forceful. Essentially it was like I was constantly nagging Koda all the time without giving him a chance to do what I wanted. Instead of asking, having a conversation and communicating, I dominated the situation by force.
Through riding with Sandy, I found what following the motion and feel REALLY means and to keep my arms soft but not too whisper soft. Through that, I could really apply the concept of riding from leg to hand and the results were absolutely incredible. For the first time ever, Koda was moving to and through his back through my hands. Talk about positive reinforcement: every time I was stiff or locked in my body, or my arms became too hard, Koda would tell me clearly with a raise of his head, dropping his back and becoming hollow. The instant I softened and applied my leg, he would lift through his back and round downwards.
The movement he is capable off is more than I thought he had and all I have to do is ride him correctly!
Now doesn't that sound easy... ;)
I know I'll put some more posts up for this clinic, but for now I'll leave you with this general overview and taste of what it's like to clinic with Sandy Alexander.