I began Lesson #4 with the knowledge that I would be in a horse show by the end of August. Just halter, Karin said – or showmanship – I don’t remember which. It was a non-riding thing, anyway. That’s good, because for me just to get on a horse still requires all the fuss and bother of a small ceremony.
Karin put me on Maree again. After a couple of trips around the edge of the arena at the walk, she hooked us up to the lunge line for some of those Special Exercises. I had to take my feet out the stirrups, let my legs dangle and put my arms straight out like an airplane. And then, of course, rotate my arms in opposite directions. I believe the purpose of this exercise is keep your mind busy while the center of your body – without the aid of hands and feet – decide whether it wants to fall off or not.
The center of my body made the right choice, but after a short while, Karin stopped me.
“That was good, Bob. But were you aware that you were rotating your legs along with your arms?”
Nope. I wasn’t aware of that. Must have looked like a drunken windmill.
Then we trotted. Without the lunge line, a big step forward in my equestrian career. I just sort of hung on and hoped everything would turn out all right, not worrying so much about style.
Using Karin’s Point System, I have to admit that Maree slaughtered me. I was supposed to let Maree know where I wanted to go – which I did. At least, I thought I did. What I wanted was for us to stay on the rail, but every time we rounded a corner, Maree made a beeline straight back to Karin, standing magnet-like in the center of the arena.
“I have a connection with her and she wants to be by me,” Karin explained.
“Oh… well then … would you mind running around the edge of the arena?”
“Bob. She needs to listen to you. Remember: use the least amount of force necessary and all the force necessary.”
She forgot to call me “Grasshopper”.
No really, this is an art. Teacher can tell me “what” to do, but I have to work out the loosely defined subtleties of “how” with Maree. At that point she becomes the teacher.
Once more around the arena. And I’m ready for Maree this time. The instant I feel her drift back toward Karin, I use my legs, my eyes, my body and the reigns together in a single, focused “I Don’t Think So” moment. And we stay on the rail.
“There. You got it, Bob.”
That was Maree, not Karin.