Somewhere in those many readings, however, I'm pretty sure I must have skipped clean over the chapter on "Patience"... because I have none. Or, very little anyway. I think I could fairly describe myself as dogged, tenacious, focused, persistent--but I'm also a prototypical red-blooded American, and I want things to happen NOW. I always thought that my tenacity would make up for my nascent impatience, and for the most part it has, since my stubbornness has kept me going even when my cool even-headedness was WAY out the window.
But then I met Ky. This little pony, more than probably any i've ever ridden before (except maybe Kiki), truly tests my patience on the flat. He's not naughty or bad, but he is suffering from some rather massive craters in his formative dressage education (especially in regard to contact) and is not finding the process of filling those craters in particularly smooth or easy. These weaknesses of his also happen to overlap with some of my biggest insecurities as a rider, as I've really only begun to develop a feeling for what real, good contact is in the past year or so after a decade plus of muddling along.
With the help of Kim's instruction and eyes on the ground I definitely possess the basic tools to solve both his problems and my own... but it is not a quick fix. At all. At all at all. We are sort of a blind leading the blind combo in this situation, as I mess up probably just as often as he does. Sigh. But even if the process is slow, you've got to at least get started, right?
So that's what we did today in our lesson. I had assiduously worked on my homework from last time with fairly good success, and Kim agreed that he was quite improved from a month ago:
I finally reached a sort of breaking point, and had a small breakdown. I was very frustrated with my inability to process Kim's instructions into anything productive, and I was even more frustrated that I had allowed myself to get wound up two lessons in a row. Gahh!! This is the part of myself that I hate the most: the side of me that flusters easily and makes me look and act like a total wuss/idiot/ass in the presence of people that I respect and generally would like to keep my shit together in front of (ie Kim).
Kim responded, in a word, incredibly. I wouldn't have really blamed her if she had written me off at that point as an unteachable headcase (it's happened before, unfortunately). But instead she buckled down, changed her teaching approach, and found a way for the lesson to end on a good note. I was deeply, deeply impressed with her professionalism and ability.
And best of all, the change of approach was hugely helpful! We realized that my low and stiff hands (which in turn exacerbate Ky's inconsistent acceptance of the contact) are often caused by imbalance and lack of stability in my core, so Kim had me drop my stirrups to build strength and hold a whip in each hand for stability. When I felt my hands starting to fall in, I could use the whip against my thigh as a lever to push myself back into the correct position. It was hard, and I made a lot of mistakes, but when I got it right I could actually FEEL the positive change it made on the way Ky went. It's a start.