Tag Archives: riding

Lessons from riding

Relatively early in my blog I wrote a post about ways horseback riding was helping me. I was feeling a need to put everything in concrete, quantifiable terms and I wanted to relate everything I wrote about back to Asperger’s in some way. Since then my thinking has evolved and broadened, and so has my blog. So I figured I’d throw together a brief list of more general lessons I’ve gotten from my horseback riding. (To be fair, I’ve gotten similar lessons from my time spent rock climbing, and from crafting. I imagine anything you do to really challenge yourself would apply)

When you mess up, you get to learn.

When you mess up, you get to practice correcting.

Really, messing up is just a great way to learn new skills in general.

Sometimes things are scary. They just might also be awesome.

Getting it right doesn’t matter nearly as much as continuing to work and try.

You’ll pretty much never get it right on the first try. Keep at it.

Improvement is incremental. Be patient.

The pace you learn at is the pace you learn at. Don’t compare yourself to others – just keep on working and learning and doing the best you can.

If you’re not messing up, you aren’t pushing yourself forward (or more succinctly: fall trying).

Get back on the horse. Always get back on the horse.

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Horseback Riding

I'm on a horse

Ok, this week’s post is running a little late.  I have a number of blog ideas meandering around in my head, but I think after last week’s post I want to do something lighter.  So instead, I’m just going to blather about ways horseback riding challenges me.  Yeah, entirely self-serving here.  No horseback riding for a month!  Two weeks in and I miss it so hard.

Horseback riding has challenged me in many ways that I never predicted.  I mean, I always vaguely (sorta) knew that there was more to it than just sitting on a horse’s back and hanging on, but I never realized just how much.  How very, very much.

One thing I’ve been becoming increasingly conscious of lately is just how much I wind up off in my own head.  It’s (usually) relaxing in there and easier than staying connected to the world.  Horseback riding, however, really pushes me to not do that.  Largely because on a horse, I can’t do that.  Or rather, I could, but it would be a terrible idea.  I’m not on lesson horses anymore, and the horses I ride expect me to be in charge, and will take advantage of me if I slip.  Not so much maliciously as sometimes they just wanna do their own thing.  So riding helps teach me to stay connected, even when sometimes I want to slip off.

Riding involves multitasking.  Lots of multitasking.  Here’s a quick off-the-cuff list of things I have to keep watch on while riding

  • leg position
  • rein tension
  • my posture
  • the horse’s posture
  • what I am doing at that moment
  • what I am planning on doing next
  • any other people in the ring
  • hand position
  • keeping myself relaxed
  • proper balance

And all of those things are just for while walking.  The list gets bigger if I’m trotting, and bigger yet if I’m cantering.  On the plus side, many of those, with practice, become increasingly second nature.  Muscle memory, motor cortex, however you like to think about those things.  And the more things start to come naturally to me, the more things my teacher throws at me to keep me challenged.  There is SO MUCH to learn.  Plus, it’s an ongoing process.  I learned the rough basics of how to post in three lessons.  It took me a few years to get enough of the details down that my teacher stopped throwing new things at me about it, and I’ll probably always keep learning in smaller ways for as long as I ride.

Riding forces me to interact with other people.  Not a lot, and I’m still woefully awkward with the other people there, but I can’t get away with just silently slipping around.  At minimum, when passing other people who are also riding, I am expected to call out “inside!”  When I heard someone behind me call that out, I am expected to keep myself to the outside and not swerve in front of them.  My teacher likes to yell things at me from across the ring, and at least sometimes I am expected to answer by yelling back.  And I can tell you, that was not an easy thing for me to do at first (still isn’t comfortable, but not as challenging as it used to be).

Riding is scary, at least to me.  It took over a year before I stopped being scared just to get on a horse.  Multiple years to stop getting heart palpitations before trotting.  I still get very nervous while cantering.  But if I want to get better and learn new things, I have to do the things that scare me, and keep doing them until I’m comfortable.  And then do them more.  It’s challenging, but it’s also awesome.

Conclusion: riding is AWESOME and at least for me, it qualifies as a form of therapy.  ^_^

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Strange Life Lessons

A while back (on the scale of 1-3 years ago, I think) I realized something that had been holding me back.  Something important dawned on me, but it has not been an easy lesson to swallow.  That lesson being: language shapes reality.

Even typing it is hard.  My brain keeps thinking that it shouldn’t be true.  Language, as spiffy and awesome and cool as it is, shouldn’t really do much more than describe reality.  Or fantasy, if that’s your thing.  In any case, language is a tool for communication – an awesome tool that I like lots – and it’s true that it’s possible to influence people by what you say, but that’s not the same thing as language shaping reality directly.  But apparently, it does.

So far I only have this lesson in a very basic way, and I couldn’t say if it goes further or not.  So, sometimes I observe people doing something new or challenging.  Someone will say “I want you to try this,” or something along those lines.  Their response tends to be “Ok!  Yes!  I can do that!” said with what strikes me as an unreasonable amount of enthusiasm.  It always seemed like just a bunch of noise.  Dishonest noise, at that.  I mean, how do you know if you can accomplish something until you try it?  What if you’re all “I can do it!” and then you can’t?  Didn’t you just make yourself out to be a liar?  I mean, sure you can probably do it eventually, but that’s different.  So in that situation, if someone was giving me a challenge, I would simply respond honestly.  “Well, I’ll try.”  “I don’t know if I can do that, but I suppose I’ll give it a shot.”

In retrospect, I am honestly not sure how I figured it out.  In any case, turns out I was sabotaging myself right from the beginning.  If, from the start, I verbalize with confidence, somehow it becomes more likely that I will succeed.  This totally breaks my poor little brain, but from everything I can tell, it’s true.  See, I know that acting confident is important in many things.  Rock climbing and horseback riding, for instance, both require that a person act with confidence.  Doing something tentatively does not ever work.  I had figured out that I could act confident even if I didn’t feel confident.  Now it seems that it’s easier to act confident if I sound confident.  The language I use and the manner in which I use it shapes the reality that happens next.

I wonder how much this is (or isn’t) true for other things.

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