Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't think of a pink elephant

Did you ever play the game as a kid where someone said, "Don't think of a pink elephant," and try as you might, you suddenly couldn't get that Walt Disney-like creature out of your head?

That's how I feel about trying to relax when I ride.  My balance without stirrups is getting better, but I am still too stiff, and I don't need to have my trainer there to tell me that.  The problem is, how to fix the problem?  I can't think, Relax, because then I'm just forcibly putting my body into another shape.

I rode for perhaps 20 or 30 minutes yesterday without stirrups, both walking and trotting.  I even posted a little, and found that I could do it, even without stirrups — the motion is a little bouncier than I'd like, but I can, which delighted me.

My balance has improved a little, and I think Panama is starting to learn to slow his trot a little for me, although he's not consistent about it — he starts out fast, slows down, and then slows to a walk after only about half a lap around the arena at the slower trot.  I think he's trying to help me — either that or he's trying to help himself by ending the pathetic bouncing on his back.

(To give him more credit, he definitely is aware that I am not as secure without my stirrups.  He spooked a little bit yesterday at the sound when I unexpectedly opened one of the Velcro-closure pockets on my saddle pad, but instead of shying or running off, he caught himself in the middle of his takeoff, did this silly mincing trot for a few steps, and then stopped.)

Although my balance is improving, I am still fighting the tendency to lean forward.  Sadly, I am apparently doing enough of that to get good at leaning forward (and keeping my balance) without stirrups.  Is it possible to learn the wrong lesson by riding without stirrups, I wonder?

I know, I know, it's only the second day.  I'll get better with time, I'm sure.  I just wish that time would hurry up a little!

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