These last days have flown by at the speed of light and I realized that I needed to summarize what I have been through so that you can at least get a taste of what’s happening.
First of all, it is not as easy as I thought to get an internet access around here. We can still get the pricy one but that is not really an option as I would really want to skype to see my kids. So yes for 2 weeks now I have not even been able to see my kids although I have all the right equipment with me. And honestly, how many days can you skype if you have just 1 hour worth of internet access? So we found out that we can get a 1 month access for 10 pound, but only online, not at the reception desk???? Yes weird, very weird. Anyways, we tried doing that, but after entering 2 pages of information, we got a blank page and still no internet access. When asked what we can do about it at the reception desk, they say we need to come back during office hours to speak to the IT department. Hmm my customer service mind is rearing up now and wondering just how much more profit this lodge actually wants or if they are just counting on the occasional silly people coming along, not knowing about this place. There definitely will not be much of a word to mouth publicity going on for them.
On the horses side, well let’s say that it is very difficult to remember if a particular event was today, this morning, this afternoon, yesterday or the day before. The days are very long, we start at 8AM and some days we stop at 6PM, but usually it’s about 7 or 8PM before the students stop and put their horses back in the stables. It’s that, I want to stop at a good moment, that makes the difference, we keep on playing with what we learned and with what we would like to see improve.
Some of us don’t even realize that we are pushing those edges and that’s what makes the Fast Track so amazing. Until today I have not had 1 day that I felt like quitting. Yes sure I do have moments of frustration and feeling like a failure, even times when tears are nearer than a smile, but I am really becoming more conscious about my emotional fitness as well. At home I go through the same emotions, but here at least I can ask for help when I’m stuck. Every time that I feel that lousy feeling, I think: “there is a breakthrough coming”. Or you’d better start thinking about the positive side or your day will be crap and you will be the one feeling bad all day, not your horse or your teacher.
So of course there are pretty intense moments, like today my horse and I fell down. We were doing circles, not his best pattern, and at a certain stage the circle was very small at a trot and he just slid under me and fell to the ground, me too.
I was on my bum and he was on his right side, he got up, I got up and we stood there thinking: what just happened?
Neither of us were hurt luckily but it was kind of a fright. I got on again and we rode off to the group.
There were some tears already from students, but everyone is very supportive and realizes very clearly that they could be next. I cried today after I had my kids on the phone. They were so sweet and nice on the phone but said that they missed me and it hit me straight to the heart. All of a sudden I wanted them with me and I would have even booked extra seats on the flight to here this weekend when Bart is coming over. If only it wouldn’t cost that much!
So what did I learn? Well to put a summary on it, I have learned to be much softer in my phases and to be quicker in my phases as well. It’s a bit like a long and polite suggestion and if no reaction, phase 4. My energy has also been a big focus for me these last few days, I am much more energetic than my horse and I need to make sure I balance it out. If I use too much, he will brace, if I use too little he will stop and eat grass. That’s my horse, a real schyzo that has taught me a whole lot about energy management!
My seat, wow I knew I wasn’t sitting very well on my horse because my back pain told me, but in my last 5 day course nobody told me and now everyone is telling me how bad my seat is! I have been getting so much help on this by Jarno (from Belgium) and I can just feel my fluidity getting better and better every day. I still seem to go back to my old habits when I’m a bit tense or focusing on something else, but my awareness is much higher than before and today I even had a smooth rising trot!
The power of the patterns. That is definitely one I would like to mention because it has proven to be even more important than I thought before. It’s not until you have been doing a pattern every single day, even several times a day, that you realize how powerful it is. Even if some days it absolutely doesn’t seem to go well at all, it all comes together after a few days. So patience and consistency is so important.
A good example is one of my focuses: the direct and indirect reins without using the reins. Day 1,2,3 and 4 I really thought he would never learn. It took him forever to realize he wasn’t supposed to go forward when I put my leg on his side. His very first reaction, even today, is going forward. But today, the 5th day, he finally seems to be getting it, he gets the feel in my body, he gets the pressure on his shoulder or rump and he gets my focus. As I said he still goes a bit forward, but I correct that before I ask him again and that seems to work wonders.
We also have been doing follow the rail for 2 days now and Fresco finally started to blow out some steam after about 1 hour of doing it. This is the pattern that made me find out that my fluidity is not good. The first day I started to get a back pain after the first 20 minutes. I asked for advice and it helped me to become more conscious of my body while riding and today I start feeling the difference and my back was a bit less painful.
So guys the Fast track definitely is worth it’s money, you learn so much every day that you hardly can remember it all and you grow as each hour goes by. What amazes me most is how incredibly great the entire student team is, everyone is very emotionally fit and it is just a bliss to hang out with a bunch of like minded people that can stand a good joke or a tear. Everyone is supportive, funny, likeable, intelligent and approachable. It’s a good feeling knowing that most of them might become instructors later on and therefore colleagues that I will meet every now and then.
Have a wonderful day and thank you again for reading through my very long blogs!