Centered Riding for beginners?
Hi Guys - I need your advice on my dilemma:
I have been taking lessons for three months now and decided to try a new instructor. I had no idea she based her methods off of "centered riding" beforehand. So I go in and the horses she uses are hers so she's REALLY protective of them, which I don't blame. So of course I get nervous right? I don't want to do anything that could "ruin" her horses (she was a stickler about that like she won't let anyone lease her horses unless they take weekly lessons with her which cost extra). So anyway, I get nervous and tense.
To make matters worse, the horse would not go into a trot! The horse literally walked with me on it around the arena like 5 times! No matter what I did, the horse would not sustain a trot. The horse trotted for like a few seconds, but that was it. So she goes on to tell me I'm too tense, I have to breathe that there is some tenseness in my body that is not allowing the horse to go which made me more tense.
The entire lesson went like that:( She told me that she teaches her horses and her students "centered riding."
Would her method be worth taking lessons for? Especially since I'm a beginner and she makes me so nervous? Any advice will be appreciated.
First of all, I do think that actually buying the book "Centered Riding" by Sally Swift is something every rider should do. The illustrations are priceless and the riding theory is absolutely applicable for everyone. Regardless of if you stay with the coach or not, this is quintessential reading. My copy is all dog eared, wrinkled and beat up from years of referencing it.
Second of all, at some point in your riding you will need to get over being scared of instructors. I used to be terrified of "BNTs" (mostly from a scarring childhood experience but that's another story!) and now I can actually sit down and have a conversation with the big names in my sport and I have learned soooo much!! You just have to remember that every rider is also a person, and people are all the same (basically), they are not aliens or Gods, as much as some might believe it. Really, all your coach wants you to do is learn to ride well, for the sake of her horses, and for your sake. There does need to be a healthy respect and a little fear is natural, but realize that she is trying to help you.
Finally, with the horse not trotting. Our horses are the BEST teachers. Our trainers and coaches are just guides. The horse was not trotting because you were all out of whack. There probably was lots of tension in your body, and an imbalance and the horse did not want to trot in fear of you falling off. Horses do not like when riders fall off!
I think it would be useful for you to do some meditation or yoga, once a week in an instructed class, and then on the way to the barn practice your meditation. Focus on your breathing even when tacking the horse up and "zen out" before you are on the horse. For me when I am driving to the barn I crank my tunes and zen out that way, and at a show I always take at least 5 minutes to close my eyes and meditate, alone, before I ride. Triggers also help. You can program triggers at the gym, work out, raise your heart rate - and then slow your work out or stop, focus on breath, slowing your heart rate and think of a trigger like the word "calm" or the color blue, or anything really! As you repeat this over weeks and months, your heart rate will begin to slow when you think of your trigger, regardless of the situation. A slow heart rate is a calm one!
There are lots of cool sports psychology things to do, but those are my two favorites. Eventually you will get really comfortable in your "zen zone" and regardless of where you are, who is teaching you, what horse you are on and who is watching, you will be able to ride calmly and effectively.
What anebel said :)
Some horses are so well trained that if you don't ask precisely and properly you won't get whatever it is you're asking for. Though some horses are just turds and won't give what you're asking for. I'm giving this lady the benefit of the doubt :)
The first time I rode a high level Dressage horse I had all kinds of trouble. I had to go back to my theories and remember and retrain myself to ride correctly. After a bit I figured it out well enough and was learning his other buttons. I accidentally found his passage button and never having ridden it before I didn't know what he was doing, LOL!
It takes times. I think you should stick with it a little longer. Riding properly is hard!
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I am just getting back to riding and am having some of the same issues. My instructor lets me know that my tenseness (is this a word?) and my poor seat (my back torques out and my butt is too far back) is not only not helping me, it is definitely not helping the horse! Which in turn makes me feel more tense because then I feel bad/start concentrating too hard and it gets even worse.
During my last lesson, she put me on the longe line, no stirrups, sitting trot, and let me keep my hands touching the horses neck for a "security blanket". I was like aaahhhh - this is what it means to have my butt really connected to the horse's back. It was super helpful. I've been practicing that feeling on bar stools, chairs, exercise balls...wherever I can hang my legs to the side and really keep my seat tucked in. Of course those objects aren't 1200 lbs of moving flesh..... :-)
Thank you for the responses! They were really helpful. I know I have to get over the 'tenseness', but I feel like part of being a good instructor is one who makes you feel relaxed and confident not scared and unsure. That being said, I might go back to her in the future...who knows.
I just have so much fun with my other instructor who just lets me ride!!! We're finally jumping and cantering and those things are so much fun and they make me feel so good about my riding ability.
But that one time with that 'centered riding' lady KILLED my confidence and made me feel wretched. Who would want to go back to that? Is it really necessary to be a good rider?
I guess that's something for me to determine for myself...
I have never heard of centered riding until this thread. Anabel, that was a lovely answer and explanation. Thank you!
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