I remember the first time I loped. I was on old Buddy, on a longe line. I turned my right foot out, laid it on him and made a kissing sound.
Then I hoped for the best.
It was several years before I understood what I was looking for, physically, and
could adjust my hands, seat, and legs in order to get the horse to lope. It took even longer to understand why all my adjustments worked.
That is the way much of my riding has gone. Niki or Tina tells me to do something. I do it. I get results. I don't know why. Lately, Niki has been explaining, both before AND after, why she is telling me to do things. Sometimes she quizzes me.
Sometimes I pass.
For awhile now, she's been having me use my inside leg to bend my horse. At first, this felt contrary to what I had been taught. Horses yield to pressure. If you press on their side, they will move away from the pressure. Press them on the left, they will move to the right. In theory, you shouldn't press them with your right leg and expect them to move MORE right, apparently unless you're trying to bend them right instead of trying to push them left.
I know. I didn't get it, either.
Nevertheless, I did as Niki told me. I put my left leg on Snoopy and hoped for the best. Probably a good 75% of the time, he bended around my left leg and went left. The other 25% of the time, well, we went everywhere else, or I ended up tugging at his face to re-route him.
Last night (after months of doing this, I might add), it finally dawned on me what Niki was asking me to do and why it worked. Today when I rode Snoopy, I sat to my right and pushed my right leg into him, visualizing less of a bending action and more of a break at his midsection. He turned immediately right.
I tried the same to the left, and he turned left. We did not have our usual argument about where he was going. I did not have to tug him across to steer him. We trotted poles left, right, left, right, right, left, mostly with my legs and seat telling him what to do.
In the afterglow of such a good lesson, I thought about my epiphany. It applied to so much of my life. I've done what others told me, without knowing why. I always just hope for the best.
From now on, I'm going to put more effort into understanding why I'm doing things, instead of accepting direction without argument.