This morning, riding out at Gilmerton in freezing temperatures, gloveless and probably wearing all the wrong attire, I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. Such happiness felt almost indecent, actually, but even that sober reflection could not force my mouth into a straighter line. While my helpers were struggling to keep warm and jumping around to unfreeze their extremities, I smiled inanely, filled with gratitude. I was instructed and counselled so carefully, and after a sore start, my legs settled down. Then, magically, with a straighter back and lengthening legs, sitting up from the hips instead of leading with my head, the pain left and I found my seat. I finally discovered what it means to sit on a horse properly, and move easily, go with the flow.
Yes, it felt odd to be sitting straight; but I am left wondering how often I have used my back mistakenly, forcing it to take responsibilities that should really, in the natural way of things, devolve more comfortably to the hips. Afterwards, returning to the car with that feeling fresh in my mind, I tried walking from the hips (instead of leaning forward, my head leading the way) and found that an unaccustomed straightness and unusual confidence was the outcome. Immediately, I wanted to go back and say, ‘Hey! Karen! You’ve taught me a new way to walk!! YAY!’
Quite an achievement for an unassuming class on a Tuesday morning. Must tell the ladies next week, how much I appreciate them. Would a box of chocolates and a large bunch of flowers be a bit over the top? Probably, but then – just imagine! Now, if I remember to walk from the hip, my view casts itself naturally up and outwards, instead of tilting uneasily towards the ground. Confidence lower in the body – instead of massive overcompensation in the back, neck and shoulders – translates into calmness, and awareness of what is happening on the horizon. It’s rather as if I have finally been given a pair of spectacles for distance, instead of being forced to wear reading glasses outside.