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RE: Riding Every Step

   I have found that if I don't consciously multi-task when I ride and just
focus too much attention elsewhere, my horse starts looking for guidance &
brings my attention back to the task at hand. If I am talking to my husband
or a friend, I may have to occasionally excuse myself from the conversation
so I can refocus my complete attention on my first & foremost job, riding my
horse  (not just sitting on my guy & expecting him to be the decision-maker
side of the team).
   I was at a ride a few years back and got into a swarm of angry wasps, got
dumped on my head, knocked unconscious (read... Thank goodness for helmets)
and after becoming semi-conscious, I got back on my horse and rode (behind a
wonderful rider who realized I was not all myself) back to camp. When I
later asked a physician friend of mine how I could ride in such a state of
altered consciousness her answer was very clear, " After you develop the
skill and repeat that skill over & over (her example was long-distance
automobile driving), that skill is so deeply engrained in your long-term
memory that you don't even need to think about it to do it. In education we
call this "Unconscious Competency". As experienced riders we are so
competent that we do not have to think about it, to do it. We have developed
the neuro-pathways to "do it in our sleep".
   Long distance anything leads to fatigue and this can lead to "loss of
attention to the task at hand". We are relying on that "unconscious
competency" kicking in. We know that when driving or riding long distance,
this can spell disaster.
   I have been in endurance for twelve years and my horses have taught me
alot. Now when I just want to walk & not ride anymore....that is usually
what I do because it is the best thing at that point...if I am not up to
being an active partner maybe I should lead him for awhile until we are both
refreshed and not continue riding too "deep into the zone" and not mindful
enough of my partner & myself. Marilyn

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Sunday, January 20, 2002 8:30 AM
Subject: RC: Riding Every Step

I have been reading all the postings about bits, martingales, spooking and
Lot's of varied opinions and experiences! It's great to read them all. It
did, however,
make me think of something that my dressage instructor has been telling me
years; "you MUST ride EVERY step!".
That was really difficult the first couple years. I thought it took way too
much concentration. But slowly, it became more and more automatic in the
arena. When I started endurance two years ago, it became even more of a
challenge, since instead of an hour of training I was riding for hours at a
time.  I've since realized that her instruction of riding every step applies
to all riding. When my horse is being actively ridden; flex'd at the poll,
giving to pressure, light to my seat and legs, active from behind, etc.,
etc., he has no time to spook or be out of control. Lapse of concentration
my part and disaster may occur. At first it was tough, but now it's second
(not that I don't, and won't continue to, make mistakes!)
It's difficult at first, but soon you can talk to other riders, to your
horse, enjoy the scenery an STILL ride every step.

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