Friday, December 4, 2009
I might have stumbled into an important learning tool. As all users of the wii fit program know, balance can be improved by doing movements with the eyes closed. We have recently expanded our night riding program and I am noticing improvements in leaps and bounds in the riders' ability to ride balanced in the saddle.
The most obvious gains are in intermediate students with limited riding experience. However, I am surprised to see how much my balance has improved since I began night riding. Not long ago the rider behind me told me that she thought something looked wrong with my saddle. This was after we had cantered and trotted about 3/4 mile. We had even jumped a small ditch. I really did not think that there was any problem with the saddle but I stopped just to check and discovered that my billet had worn through and the girth was now only attached on one side.
As I continue these rides I may very well have a new teaching tool that will strengthen our program. I have already discovered that if a novice learns how to control a horse in the round pen and learns all of the proper cues to use in riding, that rider can develop the muscle memory to become an intermediate rider simply by trotting through the woods without a break for about an hour.
Of course, all of these techniques only improve a rider's physical ability and each are dependant on the rider having the confidence to take that next step in learning. Teaching confidence is the hardest part. Year's ago my father made the off hand comment that I did not teach kids how to ride. He said that riding was like swimming, we all are born knowing how to do it. The only thing, he said, that I did with my little riders was to give them enough confidence in themselves to go ahead and allow their bodies to do what they all ready knew how to do.
There is a bit of an oversimplification in that view, but only a bit.
"Heels lower than toes, toes in front of knees, hands lower than belly buttons, sitting on your pockets and ....trot." That is our unabridged instructional manual. The slouched, lackadaisical look that we have in the saddle in despised in the show ring. Seems that the only ones who approve of this posture are the horses and little kids who ride them 50 miles in one day.
Posted by Steve Edwards