Monthly Archives: May 2006

Just One Thing

vhgcarousel7.gifEver feel like you wish you could remember Just One Thing from a certain experience, like your riding lesson? Just one thing.  Just one itty bitty thing that would actually stick in your brain and slop over into the next week.  I sure wish that would happen to me! 

Today, out at Avalon, I rode Stalker again and here follows just a few of the things I need to keep in mind:

1) Keep my toes pointed forward or in.  Not out.  In.

2) Relax

3) Push the horse forward with my thighs.  This is facilitated by the keeping in of the toes which makes my whole leg roll in correctly.

4) Keep the butt underneath the rest of the self.

5) Keep the chest open and the small of the back relaxed.

6) Remember to find and stay on the diagonal (this concept warrents its own post) 

7) Keep the hands down

8) Don't pitch forward

Ga!  An I ever going to get a hold of just one thing? What should I think about between now and next week?  I want to pick one thing and turn it over and over agian in my brain until I"m sure sure sure that I've got it — and then once I'm up on Stalker, I realize that I don't got it.

Today's image is courtesy of


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Filed under Riding Skills

For no particular reason

Since I’m so new at this and since my good friend Dawn likes WordPress, I’m changing blogging environments. No problems with Blogger at all. I do admit to enjoying the look of an add-free blog, even though advertisements about making money with blogs got my attention (but in an ironical sort of way — there’s no money I can make by babbling about horses at this point in time).

So I’ve jumped over to:

Please feel free to follow along.

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Like a sack of Potatoes

The Potato

Last week, Leah commented on my stiffness and tension as I was riding Stalker.   *sigh*.  I’ve been stiff and tense since  … well I was like that in the womb. It was a huge bother at the time to my mom and I was in several obstetric journals in 1960 due to the rigidity of my limbs and my worried little frown.  No, but seriously folks, my neck’s been stiff since 1973 or so. 

Anyway, 33 years past the age of 13 and guess what? I’m still the same way.  When I’m tired and getting ready to try and sleep at night, I have to check my body for tension and remember to unclench my teeth.  That’s another hope I have for riding, that it will unlock the knotted and clenched pre-adolescent and let her quit worrying so much about stuff that’s bugged her since the tail end of the Nixon administration.

So Leah suggested the sack of potatoes.  I stopped trying to sit up so ramrod straight (for now) and simply relaxed.  And what do you know?  Stalker relaxed,  dropped his head and accepted the bit.  He taught me a lot in 30 minutes he did, that old dressage boy!

Originally uploaded by RiderOne.

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Filed under The Rider's Body

In My Ideal Stable

In my Ideal Stable, the birds fly quietly and invisibly, getting on with their bird-life which presumably includes the devouring of bugs. They swoop, yes, because they are birds and they have the right to swoop, but they do not flutter in a way that spooks the horses. They call to each other but without making a ruckus. They snatch bugs out of mid-air and their young signal their hunger only by opening their beaks. The parents, with their amazing eyesight, see the open-beaked babies and hurry to feed them grubs and what-not. The horses have no idea any of this is going on and so they trot on, blissfully unaware of flying things in the eaves and rafters of the barn.

In my Ideal Stable, all of the people using the ring are polite. They display their politeness with style and a gracious formality. All of them, every single one of them, calls “Door!” in chiming tones to announce their imminent arrival into the ring. Every single one of them does this without being taken aside for a stern talking-to. They do this even if they think this rule doesn’t apply to them, really. There are no surprise entrances, the type that are announced only by the impetuous whinnying of a stallion who has been cooped up too long and the subsequent prancing into the ring by that same stallion (no matter how pretty he is, no matter what a tough nut his rider might be) in such a manner that discombobulates both the Friesian and the person riding the Friesian (they were there first anyway).

In my Ideal Stable, there is one loving and affectionate cat per person. Cats may sleep on saddles not currently in use and cats may use the office equipment. Long-distance calls are discouraged. Goats clean up after themselves after using the Fax.

In my Ideal Stable, there is always hot water for tea. Coffee will be considered. Pastry is mandatory.

My Ideal Stable is stocked with antihistamines.

In my Ideal Stable, Management (or its deputy) is on the ground at least half the day, dispensing courtesy and good wishes in a manner that puts people on their best behavior without having to think about it.

In my Ideal Stable, doors do not bang with the wind or swing wildly on hinges, all of the stall doors work, strolling players are invited to serenade the animals with lutes, and a breakfast trolly runs at 7:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. There is toast on Wednesdays with three different kinds of jam and whipped butter.

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My Heart Leaps Up

When I watch a kid riding, I get taken out of myself. I’m full of happiness in a great, basic, rock-bottom sort of way. There’s nothing goopy going on here, I swear, nothing mawkish or sentimental. I’m amazed when it happens, the increadible rush of simple joy. And it happened this Saturday out in Plain City, a community north and west of Columbus, a community not yet overwhelmed by the Burnham-Wood-to-Dunsinane (that’s from Shakespeare’s Scottish play) March of the Condos.

The owner of the stable very graciously invited me out to get an idea of the facility and the program. It’s a place with a lot of soul and I felt comfortable right away. Horses were dozing in their stalls, nipping at each other’s halters out in the field, and going through their paces in the ring with their riders aboard.

I watched one girl go around, doing just fine, asking her horse into a trot and then a canter under the eye of her teacher. She was concentrating. Didn’t looked relaxed by any means, but did look intent. When she got the horse up into a canter, I found myself nodding along with the 3-beat gait, the way you do when you keep time to music. The horse came around the corner and past the fence, the girl kept a good steady seat, and just by watching I felt like a kid too. It was magic.

Oh more’s the pity! The word magic is used too much when we try to talk about how we felt when we were first horse and rider. Transubstantiated is not too strong a word — but might be the wrong word. Love works pretty well. I wish there was some word that combined more with enough. I feel like I am more than the sum of my parts, like I understand that I do have a soul — and that I am enough and don’t need anything else. Both of these feelings exist within me at the same moment when I hear the 3-beat gait and watch the girl riding the horse. I am her, back when I fell in love with horses.

But I’m not her. I’m the grown-up 46 year old woman. And I am made into enough by the horse.


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On the Necessity of 12-year-old Girls

I realized how much I depend on 12-year-old girls when I first started taking lessons almost 2 years ago. I was getting the tack on my horse and I was fumbling or dropping things or doing something awkward when a girl (I think she was 12 — 14 at the most) asked me if she could help me or if I needed anything.

She was so polite, so confident and self-assured. There was nothing patronizing or belittling in her attitude or question. She simply saw someone who needed assistance, and then offered it.

I am struck over and over again by the poise I see in girl who are hanging around the barn. They’ve chosen (or been chosen by) a pursuit that demands concentration and maturity. They are not self-conscious and yet they are competent. They know how to fasten a girth. They know where stuff is in the tack room. They can tell when someone needs a hand because they remember when they needed a hand too. They’ve been scared and they’ve gotten over their fears.

They treat me like an adult and I hope I return the favor because I need their wisdom and guidance.


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