Is there any one gospel that you go to for all the answers?
Yeah I’ll say it, I go to Centered Riding.
As a teen I rode with several Centered Riding instructors of varying levels, and to suggest that the knowledge I gained was life-altering would not be completely over the top. Life-altering in terms of riding and posture, anyway. I’m not sure that I am more zen in real life.
Yesterday morning, whilst doing my ride prep (think of it as a lesson plan for a horse, something infinitely more entertaining than a schoolchild), I pulled down Centered Riding and flipped to the section on bending. When in doubt, go to the good book.
There is always at least one metaphor or visualization that will make whatever issue you might be having click into place, and in this case it was the Barber Pole. It is one of the more entertaining illustrations in the book and urges you to “Be a barber pole. Spin clockwise to go right and counter-clockwise to go left.”
Once on Final Call, it only took one bend to realize that I’d been bringing my inside leg back and up in an attempt to shove him over. Resistance, meet horse. Horse, resistance. By sinking down into my heels, playing barber shop – barber pole, I mean pole! – and turning my whole body, I lengthened and softened my inside leg against his girth, and he was happy to bend around it. As much as he was capable of, of course! Let’s not exaggerate this into something it was not.
What was it, really? It was fifteen minutes of good-natured trotting and walking, with some big loopy circles and some nice halts. It was a few kicks here and there when he forgot what my leg meant – if he ever knew. It was a good ride.