May 22, 2018

Getting Our Wires Crossed

The day after my last NK lesson in April, I had a lesson with my regular trainer.  Let's call her RT so I don't have to type "regular trainer" a thousand times in this post.

Having two trainers can be difficult.  I like NK because RT used to have her in as a regular clinician before RT went down the JLC rabbit hole, and I know fundamentally NK's teaching won't be diametrically opposed to RT's teaching.

I've posted all the good photos of the clinic so now you get less good photos (Er, not that Leah's photos are bad, my riding is bad!)

But, I do need to learn from someone who's gone up the levels herself before, which NK has done and RT has not.  RT is an eventing trainer, even though she's got a keen eye and strong focus on the biomechanics stuff.  NK can say things like "This is going to come back to haunt you when you get to [insert upper level thing here]," and I crave that.

However, that means poor RT regularly gets my incorrect interpretations and often poor implementations of things that NK taught me, which led to this terrible lesson from a few weeks ago.

I was trying to implement a feeling NK had shown me, which I interpreted as "point the front of my right hip bone down."  That was NOT how NK said it, but it's how I interpreted it.  Connor had also woken up on the wrong side of the bed for whatever reason that morning, and wasn't giving away anything this day.
Connor: "...nah."

What we did in the lesson doesn't matter, but by the end of it RT said, "I'm worried, because I feel like you've undone all the position progress we've made over the last year.  Something isn't right."

Cue internal panic from me.  What had worked so well and was literally life changing with NK was now ruining my position?!  I was devastated.

Choosing to look at the positive side of this picture and say my position is so much better than it was even a year ago, even though there's clearly so much yet to fix.

The next day, I rode by myself, and realized I had misinterpreted what worked with NK.  It wasn't that the front of my right hip bone needed to point down, although it kinda felt that way.  It was that my pelvis wasn't level in the saddle from side to side.  Connor constantly tosses me gently onto the left seatbone, so that my right side is shortened and the right side of my pelvis is floating above the saddle.

This is a pretty great example of that, really.  Right leg totally straight and not in contact with his body, right side of my body short, right side of my pelvis higher than the left.

Since then, we've had some amazing rides, and no, I have not ruined my position.  It's crazy what a big difference something that small (and that strong of a habit!) can make.  I said (and RT agreed with me) that I need some time on my own to process NK lessons before my lessons with RT in the future, so that I have a better grasp on what I learned.



  1. I feel like most of the time I spend riding in lessons is spent translating things into sound bites I understand, so I totally feel you on this one!

    1. Yeah, it's hard. It's honestly why I started blogging.

  2. Ah that's so frustrating. I had a moment of panic last week when I misinterpreted something my new trainer had told me and was worried that I might not want to ride with her anymore. Luckily she came out yesterday and clarified everything for me, so phew!

    At the workshop, Mary Wanless talked about how it's this pipeline of information from what an instructor is feeling, to words the instructor says to the rider to convey the feeling, to what the rider hears, to then what the rider does in response to what they hear. There's so much room for leakage along the pipeline that it's a miracle any of us learn anything at all!

    1. Thank you for that, I'm honestly feeling kind of frustrated lately, that at least makes me feel better.

  3. I always am impressed with people who can regularly take lessons with multiple trainers -- I just don't have the brain power or learn quickly enough to make it work, hah

    1. Yeah, I think it's more about the trainers themselves - I make a real point to ensure my trainers are at least close to the same teaching philosophy, otherwise it'd be real easy to get confused.

  4. I had a policy of taking as many lessons with one trainer as possible because I wanted to improve under the eye of one person who could really get to know and focus on me. This year I've changed that to taking as many lessons as possible from as many different people as possible. It has really pushed all my anxiety buttons but I think it will help me in the long run. Sometimes each trainer says the exact same thing in an entirely different way and I had a light bulb moment about the inside rein and another about downward transitions. Changed my riding. Other times each trainer focuses on an entirely different thing that the other trainer wasn't as focused on and that was a light bulb moment in how I view jumping down a line. I have tried to find trainers who are different yet experienced and for the most part they all have the same goals but get there down different roads.