I don't have quick answers or responses to every lesson presented to me by either Lena or Bar, and I didn't always have the confidence to even think on my feet, or their feet as the case may be. It's better now--at least with Bar. I know Bar's quirks and moods better, and have enough in my arsenal to redirect him most of the time. Lena, however, is a different story--especially since I haven't ridden her nearly as much over the last year or so.
This week has been my chance to reconnect with her Royal Spottiness and it's been interesting to say the least.
Lena is much more balanced and sure of her feet than Calabar is. Cheri (of Slide Mountain fame) said Lena always knew where her feet were. Uh, yeah. So what works to distract, er, redirect Calabar -- shifting his attention to his hind feet -- does not work quite the same with Lena. It's not that it doesn't work, it just works a different way. Usually sideways, as a matter of fact.
So with Lena, who can turn on a dime as soon as you think it, the trick is to think it before she does. To take that energy as it starts to build and turn it. Or push it sideways. Get her to use her brain and her body together, not just propel herself forward with great and furious speed--which she has in abundance. It's not that she isn't allowed to run, it's that it needs to be mutually agreed upon and she still needs to pay attention to her rider, not just run like a wild thing. "There are gaits between walk and gallop, Lena Rey." Her natural balance is a wonderful tool, though, since it allows me to pick her up and point her in another direction with an ease and grace Calabar and I do not yet possess.
Lena's fabulous balance is also teaching me to feel the "right" thing better and (hopefully) that will translate into being able to get there with Calabar, too. Or at least part-way there. I'd be good with that as a next-step.
The more I ride, the more I realize how much I don't know. I could let this paralyze me, but instead I choose to give myself room to grow, room to learn how to be both a better rider and a better horse-woman.
I think I just heard both horses say, "Phew!"