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Best Laid Plans—Cheyenne's Journey

by Cheyene Reed

I always start  each ride with my own  expectations of what I want to accomplish in that particular lesson. But it was this ride that taught me the importance of every time spent in the saddle being an opportunity to grow with what I'm faced with on that day. No ride is like the previous ride nor like the next ride. Although it is good to set goals and work towards them, every ride will be different. There will be challenges, victories, environmental changes, situational differences, setbacks and comebacks alike. Even apart from external factors, every time I get in the saddle, both my horses and my own physical ratings and mental preparedness can sway the ride in any direction. In the lessons leading up to this day, we had been pushing my limits physically and mentally with cavalletti's, and strengthening in balance and stamina for both me and Moon. I came into this lesson ready to pick up right where I left off, but my body had other plans!

My lesson was a little shorter than it would usually would have been, but we weren't looking for a test of fitness, we were looking for ending every exercise with the correct feeling. I had taken time off due to being sick, so my body was still weak, even if I didn't initially realize it. In the previous few lessons, we'd been turning our focus to cavalletti work, so a good portion of my ride was spent working grids in both jumping and standing position. My legs were shaking and they did not want to cooperate in  either position So I had to put a little more effort into maintaining  good form and finding that “sweet spot”. Minor physical roadblocks can so easily cause me to learn things the wrong way and because of my weakness, the more I continued pushing myself, the more I would lose that solid feeling. I didn't want to sacrifice good form for repetition and endurance.

Using my body to communicate with Moon was more challenging this day as I had to turn my attention to simply getting my body to work in the way I needed it to. Despite my typical tenacious attitude, I required  many breaks during my ride, so that my legs and body wouldn’t  confuse him during  the moments I struggled. I would aim for the right feeling and end on a positive note—maintaining the soft and relaxed partnership without creating stress or frustration between us. I had to turn my attention back to the foundation blocks that my riding had been built on and take a detailed assessment on how my body was responding  to  what I was asking of it.

Riding requires an open and proactive strategy  to use every factor of the ride—good or bad—and convert it into  that “winning”, successful feeling. Every ride is important to my journey and an opportunity to grow, regardless of how I imagined it prior to tacking up. This was a very successful lesson despite my physical limitations . It made me break down my positions in detail, listen to my body in partnership with Moon's, and strive to find the solid feeling and correct form. The power rests on me to either be constrained by expectations, or to take what I've been given and make it work.

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