And so my new life of riding began. I took several CR clinics with Susan and ended up getting my basic instructors certification. I audited some clinics at Southmowing Stables where Sally worked. I experimented with my own body on Tucker and on the Smith school horses. It was quite a learning time.
But don’t think it was like Ta-Da! Im a great rider! No. It was hard and at times extremely frustrating. I got back on Tucker after flying off the back of him that day. I could only get that trot about every third try. It didn’t *feel* like I did anything different those efforts, but clearly I *was*, and he could certainly tell. Hmmm.
But when I did get it right, it worked. It was crazy. I learned through time that I was hugely right dominant. All of my life I had been more comfortable on the left lead, the left diagonal, and tracking left in general. I had even only ever fallen off to the left. And yet it never had occurred to me that it had anything to do with *my* body. Well, horses were always just stiffer to the right. I usually rode OTTBs and they ran to the left. Ha! Perfect explanation. Duh.
Since I don’t want to make this blog All About Me suffice to say that all of the CR exercises worked. I didn’t find all of the visualizations helpful, nor did I find I really needed the soft eye thing. But the exercises to develop awareness of what my body was doing, and then to correct it, and then to *apply* it all to the horses I was riding were fascinating and helpful. If you haven’t read the two Centered Riding books, I strongly recommend getting them. Some people love the visualizations, some people don’t. Some helped me, some didn’t. Another really excellent book on position is Susanne von Deitze’s BALANCE IN MOVEMENT; How to Achieve the Perfect Seat. She gives excellent demonstrations of skeletal and muscular issues affecting riders, and how to correct them. (See book recommendations to left)
I taught at the Smith campus for two years. The New England weather was just too much for this
California girl so we moved to . There I opened a barn and taught and taught and taught and taught. I was always experimenting on my students. Over and over I saw that rider imbalance, whether lateral or whatever, meant horse imbalance and training issues. I saw that horses suddenly were *no longer* stiff to the right when I got my body where it belonged. That they no longer rushed the jumps when the rider kept her center of gravity where it belonged. Sometimes it was so subtle we just could hardly believe it, but the horses felt it and showed us when we were correct and out of their way. North Carolina
So, I had opened a box, and diagnosing and correcting the rider body was my first tool in it. Thank you, Sally. And Susan. And especially, thank you Tucker.