I write my blog while I’m riding.
It starts out as one subject, turns into another midway through, and might be on a completely different tangent by the time I’m through. Then I mull it over as the afternoon progresses.
Today’s was hard.
I started out thinking about softness. Not just softness of the mouth, but of the whole body. I think that’s the greatest gift we teach our Thoroughbreds and that they, in turn, give back to us. They start out as running machines, pulling against us to go further and faster. If we let them, and rein back in a conventional matter, it’s used against us.
And slowly, we soften and soften those stiff lips and tight tense jaw and rigid neck, and the horse feels able to flex and move comfortably with us. We take their natural attunement to our seats and legs and let that take over, and soon we are able to let them move loosely, with a gentle hold on the reins to remind them of our presence, but nothing more. And we are all soft and comfortable together.
Then, somewhere along the way, I had a breakdown. Somewhere between getting a fast trot and a right lead canter on a left-hand circle, I had a moment of panic. A running out of time feeling. A feeling that this was ending, and I didn’t know how it was going to end, and I didn’t want it to end, and I didn’t know how to end it properly. And before I could do anything about it, or be properly stiff-upper-lip, the tears came.
(And then “The Scientist” by Coldplay came on, and if you aren’t familiar, let me just fill you in. Here’s the chorus: Nobody said it was easy. No one ever said it would be this hard.)
The long story short is, that we took a long walk, and I got over my panic, and we worked on softness again. We got a few nice transitions. And then I leaned into his neck and let him gallop.
Three parts. Soft, panic, soft.