...but, I still can't quite put my socks on...
I was celebrating as I worked with a new coach! There are lots of reasons to celebrate. One of them being that I can throw a leg over my horse without it killing me! Another of them being that I have eyes on the ground. To make it even better, the owner of said eyes is classically trained! She doesn't even hold it against my horse that he is an Arabian. She has an open mind, too. I am a fan of creative problem-solvers, and it sounds like she is right up there with the best of them!
She watched my pony go around in circles in the half-lit arena. Funny... She never once addressed my position in isolation...
Lesson #1: ALWAYS carry a dressage whip.
OK. I can do that.
She told me I was holding him up. This was NEWS to me! I was thinking, "Gosh, isn't my pony so light in the bridle?" Yeah. Apparently, that lightness is just relative. He's so light compared to the shoulder-dislocating monster that I started with years ago... You know. The one I couldn't ride in a snaffle if I wanted to
So, we rode a few more circles, and I practiced dropping him on his face. He started getting the idea. Impulsion improved! Hooray!
The only comment she ever made about my position: Once we had more impulsion, my leg came back to the girth where it belonged. That before, my leg was a little back due the constant drive I needed to provide.
Then, we established a connection where his front end actually lightened. I felt the difference. It was not the same back-raising feeling I had become accustomed to, but I think I can recreate it!
We rode some circles with ONLY the inside rein and inside leg. And leg yielded.
Then, we rode some circles with ONLY outside rein and leg. And leg yielded.
I learned that I almost-sort-of-nag in the leg yield. Instead, I began to understand how to use timing to my advantage. Our leg-yield improved!
Then, she got on!
And told me that he was very wiggly when it came to riding into a connection. I have to say, the picture was not classical! But, slowly, I saw my horse transforming! First, she rode him into a frame that looked more like something I would see on a High School Lipizzaner!! He would drop behind the bit, she would sent him into the connection, then he would wiggle up above the bit... It was a very interesting dance as he wandered and wiggled all over the map, while she just continued to ride him into the connection. Then, suddenly, he looked like a dressage horse! With a lower frame. Less Lipizzaner.
OK, so I discovered that my dressage horse doesn't actually take a connection (he cheats), he doesn't turn properly (he cheats), and he hangs on the right rein (which might actually be me not providing enough resistance!). But the biggest news of all?
I don't know how to stop my horse.
I have to train my horse to stop in a completely, totally, ridiculously different way. Totally counter-intuitive. What does she say?
Squeeze with your knees.
All right. I'm starting over. I officially no longer know how to ride my horse! ;)