Stroller Dancing and other “aha moments”

Like many riders, I have struggled with maintaining a steady connection with steady hands.  I often reflect on my rides when I’m back at home or running the errands and I never know when lightning might strike!  And the other day it happened.  I was walking my daughter Hana in her stroller when I realized that I needed to maintain the same contact with the reins as I do with the stroller handles:  holding firmly with my hands, but not too tight so that my elbows and arms stay relaxed and able to adjust to the speed of the stroller like an accordion.  It’s an analogy that helps me recreate a feel (unlike some of the car driving metaphors which haven’t worked for me). I was eager to try it during my next ride.  Sure enough it helped something click in my mind and body.  4213663.bin

I also have had a similar “aha moment” when I remember that dressage is a dance and I remind myself that I am not “riding” my horse, but I am “dancing” with him (only in a really unusual way).  I need to lead while working off my partner’s energy – a constant give and take.   And now every ride, I imagine that I’m pushing a stroller with my hands while dancing! And it works! This page is dedicated to the “Aha!” moments we have had in our lessons and rides in the hope that we can help each other in our pursuit to become better riders.

What’s your “Aha moment”?


4 thoughts on “Stroller Dancing and other “aha moments”

  1. Marg walked in the arena this morning for our lesson, took one look at me warming up Dane, and immediately commented on how tight I looked. What?! I’d been working on relaxing and thought it was coming along nicely. Marg had to step out of the arena for a minute and it gave me a chance to think about my morning and why I looked like I was ready to jump off a cliff. I’d drank more coffee than usual, a friend stopped over and we discussed family issues, I made a stressful phone call on the way to the barn and I was running late for my lesson. The perfect storm. Dane knew it and was letting me know he was more than willing to take over if I couldn’t get focused. We spent the entire lesson on a lunge line, stretching, balancing, trusting, twirling, I felt like I’d had a massage by the end of the hour. Marg and I strategized about preparing to ride, no more phone calls on the way to the barn, relaxing music in the CD player, no more than one cup of coffee. I felt what it was like to dance with my horse this morning, and I can’t wait to feel it again, M

  2. This is an “aha” you skiers will appreciate related to working on maintaining connection through change of bend. Marg emphasized that the moment between changing bend should be very short – like a half step. That made think of turning on skis – or more specifically weighting and unweighting the skis. The time you spend on unweighted skis is very very short when turning. Otherwise you would lose your balance! Well the same goes for the horse and having the inside leg to outside rein connection! If you spend too much time with no contact between the change of bend he will fall in, out or down.

  3. Another BIG aha moment. Simple but profound. A few lessons ago I was complaining to Marg about having trouble holding the whip and reins and aiding all at the same time. So we reviewed the basics on how to hold the reins in hand and how to give light reins aids when I realized I had been holding the reins the wrong way for the last 5 years! She reminded me that I needed to actually grip the reins with only my thumb and forefinger and the rest of the fingers were relaxed and only slighty closed to offer gentle aids. NO KIDDING! This whole time I have had a death grip on the reins with all fingers (Poor Willy) and the minute I corrected it, I had a light relaxed connected horse. Go figure. I’ve been so excited at how this simple adjustment has profoundly changed my riding that I’ve talked to many of you about it and have come to find it has also proved to be an “aha moment” for others. Now I call it “crabby fingers” (which Marg has been humorously referencing in our lessons). It’s like learning to write with a pen instead of a big giant crayon. I have so much more finesse with my rein aids now. So exciting!

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