The Feel of Release: RIDING CALLE
Karen Musson, Trainer, Coach and Clinician, recommended by Leslie, relates her experiences riding Leslie's horses during her apprenticeship, in particular CALLE, whom she found to be quite an excellent coach! Click here to download printable version
5. Calle’s clinic finale – exquisite ‘feel and release’… the proof is in the pudding
Five days later, it was the last ride of the clinic, on a warm fall evening and a perfect chance to mark the event with a photo shoot. Our assignment was to gallop up and across the washed out gullies past the camera and head off down a long trail. Leslie offered me the ride on either of the two horses she had there. I chose Calle. Since riding her that first day, I had learned more and was curious about her immensely clear feedback on the improvements I had made in presenting a clear feel, in addition to any further lessons she might have.
We blasted up the hill past the camera. As we crested the hill and I saw the long sand trail come into view, a spark in my core ignited. Calle was more than willing to oblige with her full commitment to lead the group of horses – it was something like riding a bullet into the sunset, blinking to keep my line of sight clear as my eyes watered from the speed. I could have kept going down that trail a good bit longer, it was a beautiful evening… but I was pretty sure the idea was to return to the clinic.
My conventional approach to slow down a galloping horse, which involved lifting and squeezing one rein in time with the foot landing (when the horse is able to ‘brake’), would not be prudent – Calle would respond instantly to the blocking feel in her neck and shoulder, and head off in a new direction at a right angle without slowing her speed!
This was my opportunity to test-ride the downward transitions Leslie built through ‘feel and release’ into Calle’s foundation.
I knew that the mare associated the feel of the rein sliding down her shoulders with how her body feels when she elevates the forehand in order to step backwards. I had also become acquainted with another aspect of Leslie’s foundation: Calle’s razor sharp sensitivity to her rider’s intent. If I was accurate in my mind about the precise maneuver or direction I wanted, so was she. If I was not so clear, Calle mirrored this. She reflected my clarity just like a camera lens responds to an adjusted focus to deliver a fuzzy result or a crisp one. It is so valuable to understand this true potential the horse has to feel of us, if we simply think clearly!
I asked Calle to slow down, by offering a change of feel in my core that went with a slower ride, and set down my reins. The instant she felt the rein sliding down her shoulders, and before my hand reached Calle’s mane, her wither shot up several inches as she tipped her weight back and pelvis underneath her. Directly, in a stride, we were trotting.
She was in perfect balance, well-engaged, with shoulders light and ready for whatever would happen next. It felt as if her feet never touched the ground. Calle’s transition was exquisite, with a palpable three-fold dimension: precision, partnership and heart. The feel was of a horse wholly available in every cell, tuned into my intent, for any maneuver I had in mind, with optimal athleticism and the most accurate and sure footwork imaginable.
The Art of Riding © Karen Musson 2007- 2010, All rights reserved.
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