“For a horse?!?!?,” you ask.
Sadly, no. In fact this wasn’t even actual shopping so much as metaphorical shopping during my lesson last night.
Last night as Louie and I were struggle-bussing around the arena during our lesson, my instructor first helped us fix a straightness issue that is unfortunately a tough one for us as a pair. Louie enjoys leaving his right hind trailing and must be consistently reminded with a little extra hip influence to bring that leg on through. Meanwhile, my right leg is my surgery knee and by far my weaker side so I just run out of tone eventually in that leg. It’s also the leg that tends to defensively get stiff and straight during my ride as the muscles fatigue so I have to actively remind myself to continue absorbing motion in that knee or I end up blocking him on circles or lateral stuff. But I digress…
The biggest breakthrough was just in my seat and overall position. During rising trot, I often start out ok but as I start to think or worry about other elements of my riding, my hands tend to drop and my shoulders tend to crawl up my neck and I end up trying to carry the contact all in my now stiff and tense arms. To fix this issue my instructor has tried a number of things, she reminds me to bend my elbows, she’ll tell me to raise my hands, she’ll ask me to lower my shoulders, all in an attempt to fix this issue. Last night she threw a new analogy out at me and as luck would have it, this one stuck.
She said, “pretend like you just went grocery shopping and you are trying to carry all the bags in at one time so you have to carry some of the bags looped on your arms back by your elbow.
PSHHHH I do this alllllllll the time!!!
So I thought about carrying those heavy bags on my elbows and wouldn’t ya know: my shoulders sunk down my back, my elbows tucked in a little closer to my body, and my hands lifted. The remainder of the lesson continued swapping between pretty long stretches of pure bliss (lightness, straightness, omgisthisactuallyhappening-ness) and a few sprinkled-in reminders that I was dumping all of my shopping bags.
After my lesson I told my instructor that one moment specifically clicked for me because as I was trying to get the feeling down trotting on a circle, she told me that if the weight was in my elbows (from my grocery bags) that my forearm wouldn’t be carrying any weight. The exact moment she said that I had just “weighted” my elbows and noticed how light my forearms felt though I was still maintaining the contact. The lightbulb clicked on. She responded “I knew that was a good one when I said it!” and we both had a good laugh and I told her to rolodex that analogy for later use.
bliss. go get you some.