I consider myself to be blessed with the students I have. They are all ages and all experience levels. They come from varied backgrounds in riding. Some are fearless and some ride despite the fear. They have one indomitable trait that unites them all. Their heart drives them to a connection with their horse (or horses) that is far deeper than what is currently accepted or sometimes popular in certain disciplines.
I am continually privileged to work with students who have risen above the constant pressure of others' opinions to sell themselves and their horses short on what they can accomplish.
They love and believe in their horses and moreover, themselves. Some rise above fear from riding accidents and return, sometimes decades later to what they truly love.
They believe that they do not need mechanical devices to ride a horse correctly. They do not need to fight the horse or dominate it to ride beautifully. They believe they are not adversaries but instead, two halves of a perfect team. They refuse to 'upgrade' to a new horse instead of finding a way to learn what eludes them with their current horse.
Now we discuss what most often brings people to question their beliefs and many times give in to the use of mechanical devices instead of learning better mechanics. That enemy is F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-I-O-N. Frustration of not knowing HOW to overcome an issue and seemingly endless plateaus.
Can you overcome plateaus and frustration by riding a memory? (Read on for your answer.) Through your life, as you ride with your horse(s) you will inevitably become frustrated with yourself and your horse as you progress (and of course frustrated with your instructor and/or trainer that doesn't seem to be able to help you move forward past issues).
Most likely everyone that has ridden with me has wanted to throw a helmet, a boot or other random gear at me in a particularly frustrating moment as I tell you "You're still doing (insert issue here)". Sadly you are trying so hard to move past an issue and you truly do not understand HOW you could still be doing the same thing despite your best efforts.
OK, are you in THAT place emotionally? Agitated and frustrated? Ready to learn how to fix it?
Well first, take a deep breath because you're stressed and your breathing has shallowed, all your muscles have tensed and you're just a big ball of stress on your horse. (Oh, wait a minute, you’re not on your horse right now! You’re at your own computer or mobile device READING.)
Interesting isn’t it? So, if you can turn yourself into a knot with a frustrating memory, can you find the solution in a different memory? The answer to both this question and the question above “Can you overcome plateaus and frustration by riding a memory?” is a resounding YES! Isn’t that great news?!
Oh wait, I can already hear some of you saying ‘OK Deb, that’s great but I’m trying to do something I haven’t done before! How do you remember something that hasn’t happened yet?’ Ahh, very good question, I’m glad you asked. :) The explanation is coming shortly.
Let’s first talk about your memories. A perfect example I'll use is one of my students who has a difficult time getting one of my lesson horses to jog a true jog for more than a few strides. (Background: the mare is well trained in Western Pleasure and can make you drool with envy at the jog she can produce. When you watch her jog it looks as if you are riding her without having to make an effort at it…that is NOT the case. She makes everyone work for what they get.) Bystanders can literally watch the roller-coaster of emotions my student goes through as she accomplishes a beautiful jog and then shortly thereafter the disappointment as it all falls apart.
I can tell her to change her hips, legs, and upper body, whatever you could think of. All will fail. However, if I tell her to remember how it feels to ride another specific lesson horse at the jog, all of a sudden the memory takes hold. Her body morphs to match the memory and just like the wave of a magic wand, a beautiful jog manifests. If she stays ‘in’ the memory, she will ride this little mare around and around without a break in speed or frame. Then she becomes self-aware of her movements and can reproduce it easier every time she transitions to the jog.
Now the answer to your brilliant question above: how do you remember something that hasn't happened yet?
The answer is: You ride someone else’s memories. Do you realize that every time we work together, you are riding my memories? Every time I tell you ‘it feels like…', it is my memory, my interpretation of my past experiences as a teacher, a student and a rider. But you must still find that feeling in your own memory to create a new reality, a new level of connection between you and your horse.
Your homework is to work on your memories. Especially if you are in the middle of a total flop of a ride! Find a place to stop your horse for a minute. Take a breath. Close your eyes and remember a time you executed something perfectly with your horse or on another horse. You will feel the tension melt away, you will feel a change in your body and you will know the answer to the conundrum. Then you will move out again and ride that memory perfectly.
If you'd like to schedule a private session with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a VM at 978-496-8773.