Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Lessons Learned from Rachel and Chris

Also stolen from time @ Denny's:

hahaha so I am listening to the silliest conversation by the teenage type people sitting on the other couches here -- topic is "living in Canada" hahaha a fraction of the commentary is almost accurate the rest is pretty funny. Listening to them puzzle over how "bagged milk" works was what first caught my attention (apparently it's powdered -- you add water and shake!) -- it spiraled down from there :) Fortunately people randomly laughing while typing are assumed to be reading something funny on their screen, not eavesdropping on the conversation...

Today was a whole lot of theory -- n since I don't feel like typing a 2h transcript, I'll pick and choose :)

So we start with our favourite trainers: Rachel and Chris. What, you don't know them? Yeah me either. Totally randomly Denny announced "Rachel sees Chris, I see Chris" Say what?!?!?! Yeah that kinda came out of nowhere and def took me a minute to figure out... Chris? Rachel? huh??? Names (of people I almost never know but apparently should) are often thrown at me and I tend to gloss over them cause since I don't know them they don't register -- but this was a little too "See Spot run" for that. Fortunately my little brain put the pieces together before I looked like a total idiot. This would be the training scale :) Rachel and Chris being solid traditional German names of course *g* -- aka: rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, collection... Yeah the light went on -- it just had a dull bulb so took a few seconds to warm up :) hahaha

Anyways so a review of this and importance of relaxation etc somehow led to a discussion of what it takes to be a top level rider (beyond bucket loads of $ and incredible amount of skill of course :) -- anyways, one of the issues was the ability to accept and deal w/ "plateaus" in training -- both horse and rider. We've all been there -- the light goes on and things go AMAZING and you get better and better and you think you'll be a superstar by the end of the month... And then it stops. Or even worse, slides backwards as you try frantically to recreate your superstardom. And then for several months you go nowhere. And you start to wonder why, exactly, you're spending all this time, money, and effort for a sport you're *never* going to get any better at. Any of this sound familiar? As a coach, dealing w/ these plateaus and keeping your students going through them is one of the biggest challenges. As a rider, it's the only thing that's ever made me seriously consider quitting. But this one analogy of Denny's (which he freely acknowledges he stole, but I'm afraid the source - Rachel maybe? - went in one ear and out the other) resonated w/ me...

So here goes: You have a lawn right? And if you don't have a lawn, you know someone who does... This lawn grows grass. (about now the smartass side of me was saying, nope, I forgot to water it, the grass died... Fortunately the "intelligent student" side of me knows enuff to shut the smartass up and nod wisely instead :) Anyways -- to continue. The lawn has grass. Therefore you have to cut the grass. If you sit and stare at it, the grass never seems to do anything. But, as is the way of things, about two weeks later you have to cut the grass again. So when did it grow? No matter when you looked at it, you never saw it growing -- but it clearly got taller. So it is w/ developing your riding, or your green horse... It feels like you're going nowhere -- but to somebody who hasn't seen you in 2 wks, or 2 mths, or 2 years -- the difference is phenomenal. And all the time and effort you put in while sitting on that plateau will eventually help catapult you to the NEXT plateau where you can start all over again! Now doesn't *that* sound like fun?!?!? >;-P

Also had the "you can't train your horse to respond to a whisper if you're always shouting at him" lecture -- on the importance of subtle, consistent and repeated aids rather than just stronger ones. And the follow up "you must have enough fine motor control to be able to do *exactly* the same thing every time -- no matter what the horse is doing under you".

Which brought us back to Rachel and Chris and the fact that the horse *has* to be relaxed (ok which part of CHESTNUT OTTB MARE did you miss???) before anything else can work. hahaha and then there's Smokey which has taken *relaxed* to a whole new level... If Smokey were a person he'd be lying on a beach somewhere warm, smoking something that's not legal everywhere, and enjoying every second of it! hahaha


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