conscious horsemanship

A new riding lesson from Lucky – turning

Lucky enjoying some TTouch on his back before we ride.

You may remember that Lucky suggested that he should give me riding lessons.  Our first session set the groundrules (no tack at all) and also established that Lucky feels I have a lot to learn.  We covered staying balanced and centered while moving and stopping in our first lesson.

After that lesson, Lucky asked for several days of bodywork only and no riding.   He wanted some changes in his back and pelvis, and some adjustments to his hoof trims.   I got out my helmet each time, in the hope that he would choose to offer another riding lesson.

Ready to ride.  When he is ready for me, he stands calmly at the mounting block, with relaxed breathing and often licking and chewing.  I do not get on until I have clear permission.

And after several days he did!
 Lucky offered a new lesson about turning.  For many years, teachers have talked to me about using my core and about turning from my center.  I understood the concept, and struggled to actually apply it when riding.  I found myself resorting to my legs, or my reins.  I had some success using the principles taught in Centered Riding (c) (I earned my Level 1 instructor certification). When I took advanced bodywork training this past spring, I got to play with using a fitness disc (swivel disc, twist disc) to practice turning using my core (Thank you Kelley Mills!).  I highly suggested getting a fitness disc and practicing your swivel.  You learn quickly how to balance your left and right.

Until Lucky actually showed me how to turn, I didn’t connect the disc work with discussions about turning a horse with  your core.  To teach me how to turn correctly, Lucky let me experiment with all the different ways I know how to turn.  When I didn’t ask correctly, he simply ignored me.  I finally stumbled upon a spiral twist of my core, triggering my body memory of working with the fitness disc and my old Centered Riding visualizations of the barber pole.  He turned smooth as silk – the harder the twist, the tighter the turn.  I was elated!!!

Here we go!
Turning using my core, with a cordeo for backup, though I didn’t need it.
The cordeo really was unnecessary.  Handsome Lucky teaching me to trust him without tack.

Turns.  I was playing with using the mane or pointing where I wanted to go.  Nope, core guidance only.  

Lucky let me play with the feeling of turning with my core for about 20 minutes.  Then he walked to the mounting block and stopped.  His message was clear.  Riding lesson over for this session.

Until next lesson, I am continuing to practice my swivel using my core.  I’m very excited to see what he teaches me next.

Copyright ©2016 Carrie Eastman.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or American Veterinary Medical Association, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian about any changes to your animal’s health program.


  • jmci

    This is fabulous! So, he changed his mind about letting you use the cordero?
    We have a very small pony who used to give me similar lessons. When we used to try to make her do stuff, she resented it, but when I wised up and stopped doing that, sometimes when she was at liberty in the back yard, she'd position herself next to me in mounting position and indicate that it was ok to get up. She'd stand stoically while I scrambled up, wait til I was balanced, and then start walking. At the first wobble (very wobbly cos my center of gravity was quite far from hers), she'd stop again. A really good lesson in gaining better balance and a better seat. Now I'm heavier and she's older, so we don't do that any more, but sometimes she'll still get into position – she'll walk off a few feet if I actually suggest getting up, but it's as if she's saying, "Remember when we used to ….."
    I'm going to try your twisty technique on my little mare – we just started riding this summer.

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