Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Learning to Dance

Last week we went to the Ojai Valley Cowboy School to do a show for the Whoa Podcast about Horses and Horsemanship.  Jeff and his wife Jay O'Haco are very knowledgeable and really want to help their clients learn more about the cowboy way of life.  They offer a number of different "stations" on all aspects of living on the range.  We'll go into those things on an upcoming show if you want to listen, but today I wanted to tell you about something that just "clicked".

A few years ago Ranae and I took up ballroom dancing.  We are still rather shy about dancing in public, but we go to group classes most Tuesday nights.  We really like the Waltz and we are doing an Intermediate class right now.  Last night we were learning syncopated (thank you spell check) turns.  One outside turn, one inside turn, one outside turn - all in succession.  Ranae is turning not me.  I have to lead the darn thing.  Ranae turns one and a half times on the outside turns and two revolutions on the inside turn.  Not only do I have to lead, I have to help her with the turns.

Like horses, the first couple of times doing the maneuver I don't think we'll (me) will ever get it right.  Then, it looks promising.  There's a glimmer of light and that motivates us to carry on.  Of course, the next phase is totally screwed up, before we start to make progress again.  I've learned that this is the way it is and know we just have to plod our way through the different stages.

The instructor came over as we were having problems on the turns.  We were close to nailing this move, but something just wasn't right.  He told me I was leading the turns a step to early.  If Ranae was on the wrong foot when I tried to turn her, there was no way she would be able to make the correct number of revolutions.

It dawned on me that this is exactly what Jeff O'Haco had told be at the cowboy school a few days earlier while I was riding their schooling horse Luna.  If I tried to get Luna to turn while her front foot was planted in the ground it would throw her off balance.  But, if I signaled her to turn while that foot was in the air I would really be helping her out.

Now both my horsemanship and my dancing ability hinge on my awareness of my partners' feet.  I've got a long way to go.  I'm not quite sure how to get good at this yet, but I'll learn the dance.
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