"Going Training, schooling Prelim" was the chorus for our one sentence intros to Jimmy this morning. Whew, maybe I'm not the only rider who foolishly said "yes" when Karen Hisken asked if I of course wanted to be in the Prelim group for the 2011 Wofford clinic at Eventful Acres. It was a great comfort to be with many of the same horse and rider combos who joined me in the training group last year. Maybe I am in the right place...
Last year on day one of the clinic, the sea of white poles in Rod's huge stadium arena intimidated me. This year, I welcomed the challenge (er...the speed bumps). Simon, the veteran, had the gymnastics game figured out as soon as he set foot in the arena and was eager to show off. Clever with his foot work and able to lengthen and compress easily, he didn't start to settle in until the exercises got more complicated. Bring on those bounces please!
|Sea Of Poles|
Although Simon had his job figured out, Jimmy was quick to point out that I needed some reminders of where we left off last year. Let go of the reins, ease off on the heels, don't make him anxious and flat by kicking too much. Relaxing the tension in my body came a little quicker this year thanks to all those hours this winter of doing my homework with Susan and Brian's encouragement.
The rest of the day's lesson was about focus. Ironically, focusing on riding the whole course and holding off on celebrations until the whole exercise (or round) is complete is something we've been discussing at home this year.
Jimmy's advice today was about the opposite end of the party spectrum. Focus on setting the horse up straight, let him do him job through the gymnastic, and the focus on pulling up in a controlled fashion. Only after the round is complete should you let the hyper-critical internal dialog start. If you start thinking about what you've done wrong while the horse is still in motion, then he's going to start driving. And Simon definitely likes to drive.
We finished the day with a few encouraging words from Jimmy. "Give yourself permission to be better. You are better, but you don't believe it yet."
Focus the mind, relax the body. Pat the head, rub the belly. We know what this year's homework is gonna be.