EQUALS AWESOME The other thing being that thing that they tell you to do, when the horse is falling in on a circle in canter, which is: open the inside rein. Which seems ridiculous and pointless and scary, because surely if you open up the inside rein, the horse is just going to fall in even more and you’re going to end up spinning like a top?

Actually, you don’t. What happens is, the circle gets frighteningly smaller and then the horse, who has been overcompensating, compensates in the correct direction, and Bob is the brother of your mother or father.

It really does work. Especially when added to the belly button thing. Oh, and the thing that Ruth told me to do in the canter, to drop and open up my knees. Honestly, I barely know myself.

What happened was, we had been having some excellent canters, knees were down, navel was engaged, and the inside leg was on. I was holding Rebel back a bit, just to let him get used to the idea that I am now taking a greater interest in being in charge, but still, we were going great.

Until the last canter. We went into the twenty metre circle at C, and damn if he didn’t start running away a bit, and dropping his shoulder. I sat back, legs long, did the belly button thing, and opened the inside rein — and damn it if he didn’t straighten up.

He tried it again, I did it again, and bang on the money: I could feel him shift his weight so that he didn’t tip over like a dozy cow.

I think that it takes a while to process something intellectually about the riding. So much of it is counterintuitive, that it’s a struggle to believe, in your mind, that sitting back is actually safer than curling up in a ball on the horse’s neck [well, when I put it like that…] and that opening up the rein in the direction in which a horse seems uncontrollable will actually get him under control.

I believe it in my mind, now, because I did it in my body. There was a moment when the circle was getting reeeeeaallly small when I thought that I didn’t dare try to open the rein again, but I did, and he straightened up.

All without using the stick. All without bashing the belly. All without panicking. All easily and quickly done. No drama. Lots of praise resulting. Feeling of self-amazingness increase expotentially. There’s a lot here to like.

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