“Once more unto the breach! Dear Friends! Once More! ” These are the immortal words that William Shakespeare gave to King Henry V to rally his troops, to fight on, and try one more time. This past week I had to tell myself “once more unto the breach” after a particularly difficult lesson. What was the “breach”? The canter half pass zig zag! If you follow this blog you will know that is a gap or a breach in my Intermediare 1 test that I find hard to fill.
Whose fault is it ?
It is not my horses’s fault. Biasini is quite capable of doing this with no difficulty. So what is the problem? The problem is with the rider. That would be ME!
What is the problem?
The problem is that I am not quick enough. Belinda explained it to me, on the day of this difficult lesson. “Biasini is a miner. He will pull you down into the ground and then take over. You must me so quick, to half halt and remind him to stay up and light and with you.”
What did we do?
Belinda demonstrated how I needed to ride the half halts by taking a pair of reins and having me hold them and for me to be Biasini. Then I had to pull (like Biasini) and she gave a lightning quick…. Give! Take! Give! I could not continue pulling with nothing to pull against. Of course I still have my legs to support and ask for Biasini to keep up the forward momentum, and gage if I need a strong half halt or just a tweak of my shoulder blades. I am supposed to know all this already. But….once more!
What happened when I tried again?
I rode the zig zag and in the first half pass to the right I found the speedy half halts worked wonders. I was so excited I forgot to keep on with enough speedy half halts and so we lost it a bit. At the end Belinda said: “You just have to be that quick. And it has to be automatic.”
That was when my heart sank. To learn a new muscle memory and make it “automatic” is not easy when you are older. We all get slower, not faster, as we get older. Not in the body so much as in the mind.
So what did I do about it?
The next morning I got up and rallied myself to ride ‘once more unto the breach’. I practiced on my own on the Thursday and on the Friday, in my lesson, we rode through the test. And….the zig zag was not half bad.
Now I carry on and try not to think about the impossibility of getting faster and quicker and creating new muscle memories. I shall just ride on and fill that breach!