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  1. #1
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    Default Myopics - ever ridden without vision correction? Is this "soft eyes"?

    I had a somewhat amusing accident today, that maybe led to a eureka moment.

    I have this ornamental plum tree by my front gate. It needs pruning, but in South Carolina we prune trees in January. So it's a little overgrown, and I went out to feed at six, in the dark. Not seeing any need to put in my contacts - what is there to see in the dark, right? - I managed to run my left eye right into one of the twigs on my plum tree. And lodged a piece of bark under my eyelid.

    If y'all have never done this, it feels a lot like being stabbed in the eye with a darning needle every time you blink. I could.not.rinse it out. So off to the eye doctor I went - luckily DH was home to drive me. Dr. removed the piece of bark under a local anesthetic, but I couldn't put my contact in, and I don't have glasses.

    So off I go to my riding lesson this afternoon with uncorrected vision. The world looked a lot like it was painted by one of those French impressionists. But I figured - what the heck, the horse can see, right? And I wasn't jumping,

    Know what? My trainer said it was the best I've ever ridden, in almost a year of lessons! I was soft, I was relaxed, I was confident. Horse was happy and forward going. Trainer could not believe the difference! She's always said I have a tendency to hyper-focus and get "hard-eyed" as she calls it.

    So when I told her what happened, she thought maybe my temporary myopia may have forced me to achieve the "soft eyes" Sally Swift wrote about in the first chapter of Centered Riding.

    I'm the first to admit I've never been able to really understand what Ms. Swift meant by that term - so heck, maybe I did!

    Has anyone else had a similar experience? Do you feel like you understand "soft eyes"? Ever ridden without being able to see much of anything? If so, please share!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
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    Yes, that's it! I experienced this when one of my instructors took my eyeglasses away as an experiment one day. I'm VERY nearsighted. The experiment was a success. I ride better without glasses, too!



  3. #3
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    Dec. 10, 2012
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    In the arena, maybe. Outside, NFW.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
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    Hope your eye's OK. Sounds like that hurt!!!



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThreeFigs View Post
    Yes, that's it! I experienced this when one of my instructors took my eyeglasses away as an experiment one day. I'm VERY nearsighted. The experiment was a success. I ride better without glasses, too!
    Wow. I'll tell my instructor, then. She may want to use this technique on some other people.

    Quote Originally Posted by caballero View Post
    In the arena, maybe. Outside, NFW.
    Actually, we were outside the arena for our lesson yesterday, because both arenas were flooded. Normally I don't ride very well in the area we used yesterday, because there are lots of things that spook horses (bushes rustling, neighbors shooting, bunnies racing around, critters hunting bunnies, etc).

    But yesterday went really well. I couldn't see the bunnies or rustling bushes, so I couldn't get tense about it. Proving I suppose that the horse is more worried about me being worried about him being worried than, er, actually worrying himself. And, maybe reassured by how relaxed my horse seemed to be, I was way more willing to strike off down the lane towards the shooting neighbors or ride close to the bushes than I normally would have been.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThreeFigs View Post
    Hope your eye's OK. Sounds like that hurt!!!
    Much better today, thanks. The eye dr said it was just superficial scratches that would heal quickly. I'm able to get my contacts in today!



  6. #6
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    Aug. 22, 2001
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    No way in hell. But I'm really nearsighted - as in hold my watch 1" from my face to see it w/out lenses nearsighted. I have coke-bottle glasses, and contacts cost $300+ and take 2 weeks.

    I can get to the bathroom w/out glasses, but wouldn't attempt to feed or tack up let alone ride without them - it's unnerving and makes me feel drunk.



  7. #7
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    Aug. 12, 2010
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    Nope, could not even attempt that. I am very nearsighted...worse than 20/400 without correction, though I can be corrected to 20/20 and 20/30. Without contacts or glasses, I don't think I could even find the horse . I do keep a pair of glasses at all times, even though I usually wear contacts...a lost or damaged contact or eye infection would mean I could not leave my house, couldn't work, couldn't drive, etc... I wear RGP lenses and they are expensive and take some time to come in when ordered, so I can't rely on a box of disposables as my backup.



  8. #8
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    I used to jump much better without glasses and rarely wore them when riding. But after doing one cross-country ride with contacts, I was shocked at what I hadn't been seeing and decided (as someone else put it) NFW I'd ride half-blind again.



  9. #9
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    If I took off my glasses/didn't wear contacts, I wouldn't be able to legally operate a motor vehicle, never mind safely ride a horse.

    I rode with a Centered Riding instructor and never had a problem with soft eyes with glasses.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    If I took off my glasses/didn't wear contacts, I wouldn't be able to legally operate a motor vehicle, never mind safely ride a horse.

    I rode with a Centered Riding instructor and never had a problem with soft eyes with glasses.
    I was able to get my right contact in, so I drove with my left eye shut. I'm really left-eye dominant, so when I have both eyes open, that's the eye I see out of.

    I think I might be able do "soft eyes" now with contacts in. I just never really got the concept before riding blind yesterday. I was trying to figure it out from the book.

    How would you explain the concept of "soft eyes", or how did your instructor explain it to you?



  11. #11
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    Oct. 16, 2006
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    I wouldn't be able to find the barn much less the horse without contacts in or glasses on. (similar to another poster I can make it to the bathroom and only in my home but that is it)

    I have a feeling that soft eyes does not equal blind as a bat



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by west5 View Post
    I wouldn't be able to find the barn much less the horse without contacts in or glasses on. (similar to another poster I can make it to the bathroom and only in my home but that is it)

    I have a feeling that soft eyes does not equal blind as a bat
    Oh, no, I don't think it does. I'm just saying being blind as a bat may have helped me figure out the concept of maintaining a soft-focus awareness of one's surroundings but not hyper-focusing on any one thing. This last is my biggest fault, according to my instructor.



  13. #13
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    Sep. 24, 2001
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    As a junior I never wore my glasses to ride. Rode much better without them. However as I have gotten older, my eyes have gotten worse , there is no option! I could tack up, but tried once to hack without them and could not see far enough to feel comfortable.



  14. #14
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    Mar. 11, 2006
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    I haven't ridden with contacts or glasses in 13 years. Fortunately, though near sighted, it's not so bad that I can't read the letters or see the jumps or even judge my spots. I honestly can't say if it affects my riding but good to know that perhaps it might in a good way.
    Ranch of Last Resort
    www.annwylid.com



  15. #15
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    You would not want me to do that. I can't see further than a hand's width in front of my face.

    I've never had a problem with the soft eyes concept.I have students focus hard on a tree branch, or a particular post, and zone in on it hard. I then ask things like are you squinting? would you say you feel relaxed, or tight, over your shoulders? Etc...I ask them to think about their body's response to such intense focus. Tension is the common thread in their answers, so we talk about that a bit then we try instead to just look at the tree line, or the far fence line, or things like that, look around a bit, not focusing on anything, just being...and we repeat those questions so they discover with guidance, the relationship.



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' View Post
    Oh, no, I don't think it does. I'm just saying being blind as a bat may have helped me figure out the concept of maintaining a soft-focus awareness of one's surroundings but not hyper-focusing on any one thing. This last is my biggest fault, according to my instructor.
    I know just teasing

    I think people who wear glasses and are generally myopic may truly have no idea what it is like for those of us who without vision correction literally can't see a building they know is in the field in front of them!

    If I don't put my glasses down in their "spot" I can't see well enough to find them around the house.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by katarine View Post

    I've never had a problem with the soft eyes concept.I have students focus hard on a tree branch, or a particular post, and zone in on it hard. I then ask things like are you squinting? would you say you feel relaxed, or tight, over your shoulders? Etc...I ask them to think about their body's response to such intense focus. Tension is the common thread in their answers, so we talk about that a bit then we try instead to just look at the tree line, or the far fence line, or things like that, look around a bit, not focusing on anything, just being...and we repeat those questions so they discover with guidance, the relationship.
    That's how my instructor explained it to me, too. Maybe I'm so hard-headed about my hyper-focus that I couldn't give it up voluntarily. I'm that way in other areas of life as well - I do.not.multi-task, preferring instead to hyperfocus on one thing, finish it, and move on to the next.

    I agree about tension! Yesterday I felt so soft and relaxed in comparison to how I usually feel! Actually, like the little girl in Centered Riding says, "like jelly!" The opposite of what I expected - I thought I'd be really tense about not being able to see. I would've cancelled the lesson, but I've missed the last two because of bronchitis and hated to cancel three in a row.

    I wouldn't go hacking into unknown territory, though, without my contacts. I don't see well enough to avoid getting me and the horse into trouble. The area we were using has no real dangers in it - just plenty of places for horse-eating goblins to hide.



  18. #18
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    Y'all, I'm another that can't find her glasses if she puts them down in an unusual spot. I'm familiar with that phenomenon of "not being able to see a building in the field you KNOW is there"!

    I would not dare drive without my corrective lenses. My contact lens corrections are -9.5 and -10. I'm comfortable riding without my glasses in an arena -- Figaro can be my "seeing eye horse".

    I understand your concerns, fellow myopics! Riding without your glasses at least once will help you with the "soft eyes" concept, if you have trouble grasping it.



  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThreeFigs View Post
    Y'all, I'm another that can't find her glasses if she puts them down in an unusual spot. I'm familiar with that phenomenon of "not being able to see a building in the field you KNOW is there"!

    I would not dare drive without my corrective lenses. My contact lens corrections are -9.5 and -10. I'm comfortable riding without my glasses in an arena -- Figaro can be my "seeing eye horse".

    I understand your concerns, fellow myopics! Riding without your glasses at least once will help you with the "soft eyes" concept, if you have trouble grasping it.
    Wow! You are brave. My lenses are 4.25 in my dominant eye, and 2.0 in my non-dominant eye. (I leave that eye less corrected so I can read without cheaters.) My nieces have about your correction, and yeah, they couldn't find the barn without their lenses in.



  20. #20
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    yes, -10.5 in the right, negative 11 in the left. I do NOT go anywhere w/o my contacts.



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