As I've continued to work with Lakota here at home, we've had a few little sticky issues here and there. Our steering wasn't fluid and sometimes very dyslexic, forward was OK, but not really snappy, and whoa was more of a slow down and stumble into a sorta stop eventually. I knew we weren't ready for the trails if we couldn't get a decent whoa.
My epiphany came since I've been taking some Centered Riding lessons with Karen of Glaciers End Farm (see link to the right). I've never really had formal lessons for myself on a school horse, so I have a lot of work to do. Our steering is now mostly fixed since the realization that I collapse my ribcage (mostly to the left, but sometimes on the right as well). I've been working hard on that, but have a few body issues to overcome, including weaknesses, and a lot of old, chronic muscle tension and chronically contracted muscle groups. I'm having therapeutic massage weekly, and that is slowly beginning to resolve a bit. I've been like this for well over 15 years, so its going to take some time to fix. It causes me not to be able to isolate certain muscles and make them do what I want them to, and also causes poor postural changes. I'm also using Infrared Light Therapy (thanks, Jocelyn!), a bazillion supplements (thanks to Linsey!) and magnesium oil topically, which really helps over and above what oral magnesium can do.
Anyway, that wasn't the point of this post. The point is that after discovering the muscle issues, I am now aware of them and throughout the day I can work at changing how I carry myself now due to the awareness. This has crossed over to my riding, and Lakota and I now have nice smooth turns with only a change in my focus. Last week with a change of saddles, my leg is now in the proper position, and Lakota and I have nice, snappy forward, and amazing "stop-on-a-dime" whoas! She is such an amazingly sensitive horse, that all it takes is a very slight change in the position of my leg to influence her. She is amazing for such a green horse! I am having so much fun with her, it is such a blast to right such a sensitive, and willing horse. And she enjoys it as well, she is always looking for attention. When she does something particularly good, I stop and give her a good scratch on her withers, and she bends around and returns the favor by grooming my foot in return. She is always at the gate, waiting for me to bring out the tack, she loves to work together. Not bad for a 11 year old ex-broodmare, that I was told I was nuts for even thinking of training her at that age, as she would have no work ethic.
So, it really is all about the human. Whenever you're having trouble with a particular task or movement, stop and think about your body, its position and how that influences the horses body (even on the ground). My collapsing my ribcage even caused Lakota's free-lunging to be dyslexic, and now she is reading my thoughts and initiating changes of direction as I am thinking of asking for it.
She is amazing!