Just found this thread again because Romy was kind enough to point Jocelyne towards it from Josepha's Five Steps thread....
And I'm so delighted that this popped up again -- I'd completely forgotten this and looking at it again, the timing couldn't be better.
I've been getting on Stardust recently and letting him decide when and where we're going to move, which has been a great psychological process for him (freeing him to feel okay about me being on him in another new way...), and at least as much for me, both psychologically and also kinesthetically --
I am SO not used to not being the movement instigator on him that it's fascinating being completely a passenger and feeling how the movement begins in his body when it's his choice.
It absolutely starts in the hind. SO clearly! (This is one of the cool things about being on a horse this big -- his movements are big enough as they travel through his body they're pretty darn easy to feel.)
And instinctively but with a heck of a lot less finesse than Sue and Josepha describe here, I am opening as he walks forward. (I'm trying very hard to do nothing but have a huggy butt when waiting for him to decide what he wants to do -- my focus is on staying as soft and light and loving on his back as I can with no editorializing) -- and as he makes that first move to walk on, I'm softening and opening to say, 'yes! this feels good for me, too!'
As an aside, I'm realizing how much human nerves get in the way with all of this -- I feel infinitely more confident/comfortable on SD now than I did a year ago because I think we know and trust each other so much more fully, and I don't feel that little stab of "eek! here we go" nerves as he starts to move out that I often did in the past -- I'm guessing that many, many horses and many, many people are dealing with that jolt and the simultaneous instinctive "closing down" of energy that comes with it, which becomes part of the leg on/pressure/close down cycle.
....(pause for the day's activities
Rode SD today and am SOOOO glad I came across this thread before I did! He snacked and then wasn't sure he wanted to move, doing a little fretty head tossing. Because this was so close to the surface for me, I was able to resist the instinct to put leg on him and instead opened my energy to the front (Scarlett O'Hara, eat your heart out!
) and he eventually decided that walking out was okay.
Best part is that he actually decided to wander the ranch and even trot w/out my urging...the trotting happened because we were walking along the pasture edge where sister Circe was imprisoned (her word, not mine) and as she trotted out, he joined her.
Very, very cool. (For those reading and not following our adventures, I'm finally getting back on Stardust pretty regularly after about a year's break of riding post breakdown about it last spring when I began with AND. I'm am truly just passenger riding to the best of my ability at this point -- the goal is to recalibrate riding as something w/no tension or fear. We've made big strides with this in the last couple of weeks -- both, I think, because we've done so much work building the friendship over the last year and broken some of his old expectations and also because I've come so far in breaking my expectations, too.
The longer I explore AND the more convinced I am that the learning is mostly on my end.
"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi www.imaginalinstitute.com