We made it over the hump of winter, you guys! Woohoo! The days are getting longer now, and if we squint and use our imaginations we can allllllmost see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel: Dare I say it? Spring!! But...don't get too antsy too soon, because, after all, this is Northern Wisconsin, and we have a lot of winter left to endure.
While it is important to get out to the barn as consistently as possible (at least on the warmer days) to visit our horses, groom them and work them, wintertime is also an opportunity to explore some unmounted education opportunities.
Grab a cup of tea, boot up Youtube and watch video after video of REALLY GOOD riders. Watch their equitation, notice their turn-out, and pay special attention to their horses. Watching the best of the best will help to train your eye to see important things like what correct collection looks like, what a supple, engaged back looks like, how a relaxed and balanced horse moves, etc.
Another really beneficial and important way to educate yourself this winter (from the comfort of your couch) is to read. Reading about riding engages our intellectual side and helps to drive home some major concepts, so that when we are on our horses we can relax and stop thinking so darn much.
Some people learn through "doing" and some people learn better through gathering information, but a combination of the two is ideal. The deeper our understanding of riding mechanics and technique, the more those things become second nature to us, and as that happens, the better we ride.
Because, in fact, to ride really well we need to turn down the intellectual part of our brains and rely more on feel. It's in that quiet zen place, away from the "brain chatter" of our intellectual side, that we experience those brilliant moments of connectedness with our horses, where it feels like they are reading our mind and we are flowing together in perfect harmony like a pair of dancers.
But you can be a pair of dancers tomorrow. Today, it's -2F and windy, and you're going to watch Youtube and search Amazon for really good riding books. Don't forget the tea. ;)