It had been only three weeks since the first Ride With Your Mind Clinic and I had taken leaps and bounds with not only Rivelle but also one of my other horses, Sonnentag FGF. I was able to ride bokth of them as well as my youngster horse Erithe (4 year old, 2 months under saddle) over the two days Jennifer visited at the farm.
Once again Jennifer emphasized arm cuff and too much weight in the stirrups - most people think they need to really push down into their stirrups to secure their feet but this is not true. If you set your foot in the stirrup with your little toe at the edge of the outside of the stirrup, then push your toe nails up the the top of your boot, it will allow your foot to #1 be in the right position on the stirrup and #2 not be too heavy so that if someone's finger was underneath your foot they would cry from the pressure.
Making things black and white - another fantastic topic with many of the riders and their horses. Help the horse to understand this is how we are going to do X everyday. Not changing how we do it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sure helps to avoid mistakes and build towards better communication. Stop negociating with the horse because they seem in a bad mood or the weather is bad. Expect them to accept what you are telling them and offering to them in a way that is easy (or so we hope!) for them to understand.
Taking over the horse''s gaits and making each step "our own" was a totally new concept. Slowing down the walk to become in charge of every single footfall. Easy for some horses, hard for others. I imagined it as the Spanish Walk that I have seen in videos - each leg was controlled by the rider by the way they were plugged into the horse and narrowing their thighs to push the medicine ball from the chest of the horse to underneath the rider's seat. I can honestly say that I felt each and every step the horse made with each foot - it was amazing!
I can say that every rider who participated in the clinic came away with a totally new awareness of their body (especially their thighs and feet) and how sensitive horse's are to even the slightest tension in a muscle. I know that all of my students are super excited to be using the RWYM method now. For those of us that have been practicing "classical" dressage forever, riding with a biomechanical perspective is a new concept that sometimes is hard to swallow. All I can say is be patient, have an open mind and give it a try. The results speak for themselves!