Last Thursday was my first time back on Rain (the equine) since she’s had some bodywork. She’s now had two sessions of craniosacral therapy, and, having observed three different horses get the treatment, I can say it is one of the most fascinating concepts I’ve seen in a long time and appears to make a big difference. My trainer’s flatted her a handful of times since this and has commented that her gaits are a lot freer, she’s really reaching for the bridle, and as a whole is more expressive (and not in the pissed off way of the past).
There were mixed emotions all around this lesson. The familiar creepings of pressure started when we decided to see how she would go over a few jumps. While happy that trainer trusted me in being the first to take her back over some sticks, I wanted to do my best by her and not “screw up” any of the progress she’s made. On a positive note, warming Rain up I immediately felt an increased purpose in her walk and just as trainer said, she was quick to start using her back and just take up the contact as long as I set the tone for her. Whereas before it felt like her front end was pulling the back along, now it seems like there’s a motor back there – but she’s still figuring out how to use it. This means her canter (both ways) takes a circle or two of being fast and kind of discombobulated, but the key is to not get in her face at all and then she figures it out.
Jumping was… interesting. The one other girl in our lesson, who was literally and figuratively riding the golden pony, started off first doing two or three jumps at were about 2′. We would eventually move to short courses of 5 or 6, but the story of our jumping for the day was basically, where golden pony was the picture of relaxed and fluid, Rain was kind of like a foal on crack relishing her first thrills and spills in a pasture. JUST SO ENTHUSIASTIC.
For the record, Rain has competently schooled 3’3″ and 3’6″ in the past, but it seems now that she doesn’t have a consistent pain/tightness holding her back, she just wanted to see what her body could do, and needless to say, we were *slightly* overjumping.
The other problem was that she still anticipated pain whenever pressure increased on the reins, so turning to a jump was not really a thing as my legs/seat aren’t strong enough to completely steer from there. When we came from a straight line, it felt pretty good and trainer agreed, but hopes of her calming it down after the first couple rounds quickly diminished. If anything she was getting more excited, and I was not keeping up, so we went back to cross rails.
The first three or four of those, taken at a trot, were still rather flying leap-esque, but she eventually gave a resigned snort and our last few jumps actually felt really measured, calm and balanced.
To be truthful, I was getting a bit down on myself after this ride. Usually I’m “come what may and adapt” in terms of riding and if one doesn’t go my way it’s no big deal. I’m happy with every ride I get and usually make the most of it. Outside of horses, however, that is not my norm. I feel driven to either be doing a certain amount or doing whatever at a certain level, and if I don’t meet the expectations it’s hard for me to let it go (even though I’ve made some progress). I think because I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride for two weeks after this I felt some added pressure. And to be fair, Rain (and all the other horses) had been in since Monday because of our snow-tornado watches-flooding-back to 30s weather pattern of the week, which certainly didn’t help in the energy department.
At least I’m noticing it and naming it, and in all reality it was likely brought on more by circumstance. It’s something to look out for given there’s yet more definite sidelining in the nearish future. Picking up on it now will hopefully mean I can diffuse it for the riding I have in between the breaks.