Sunday, February 7, 2010

101 Things: Number 97: The Human Element

On a cold snowy Saturday, I packed my equipment up and headed over to the annual GMO Gala.

The annual speaker this year was the USEF long-listed, Heather Blitz, someone who I've long admired for her ability and personality.

In the hour and a half long speech on her life, her horses, rider bio mechanics and her methods, she mentioned one thing that struck me the most:

"There is not enough concentration by riders on themselves. What feels normal is usually is not correct. What feels correct is interpreted as weird. That the correct place is only "weird" feeling when its new and you make changes to get here, until you do enough repetitions so that it becomes normal feeling. And that it's hard to go for the weird feelings and believing in the beginning that they're right.It's not until we look at ourselves in the mirror we figure out what we've been compensating in."

At that moment, I really felt like standing up and cheering.

As riders, we concentrate so much on the horse's athletic potential that riders forget themselves. Riding is not only a mental game, but a physical one as well. While the average rider doesn't need the physical fitness of top riders or the mental fitness of Einstein, they do need to sit straight, sit in balance and be able to work effectively for at least 30 minutes in the saddle. They need to know theory and practice, be able to mentally condition themselves to the sport and form positive habits that will influence their riding correctly.

We, as humans naturally accept our physical and mental compensations. It's discovering them, accepting them, and then changing them to make the partnership better is vital. Accepting your personal faults is never easy. Changing them is harder.

To become an athletic partner that we intent on being- we need to be aware of what we are doing in and out of the tack, and create a personal system that encourages that correction and development.

(photo credit: Horse Radio Network)


Val said...

Number 97 reminds me of one of my favorite articles, by one of my favorite classical dressage trainers:

"The rider who undertakes the difficult and painful task of analyzing everything about himself honestly will be transformed by the experience in more ways than one and gain a much deeper insight on many levels than he can imagine beforehand. He will also learn how to ride, almost as a byproduct."
-Dr. Thomas Ritter (2007)
From the article "Food for Thought"

Golden the Pony Girl said...

Oh I do like Blitz! I wish I could do a clinic with her or her mentor some day. I could not agree more about focusing on the rider. I find that problems arising in my horse's training are 95% me, and the solution is usually a position adjustment. The other 5% is me as well; it is a training problem where I need to make a mental adjustment. I wish I had a facility that had mirrors and I wish I had the money for more riding lessons. I know we would be progressing faster if I had more outlets for self evaluation.

Paigeley said...

you should try taking some lessons with mary wanless she is all about the riders position and effective aids