What a whirlwind of a 24-36 hours! I had a lesson with Cindy in Athens at 11 on Monday, then had to work the overnight in Athens, then had another lesson at 1 on Tuesday. But it worked out well.
On Monday we rode and it got a bit busy in the arena because of the weather (rain and more rain and cold... shocker right?!) but Dan was actually pretty good. We worked on not letting him get behind my leg and getting a forward canter. We worked on soft supple downward transitions. And we worked on me. A LOT! Cindy pointed out that when he gets stiff and won't get off my inside (especially tracking left) leg, that instead of trying to pull him back to the rail, I need to ride proper like and do it right. That means that I need to sit up, lift and bring back (caudally) my inside shoulder and elbow, and put my inside leg into his girth and move him back to the outside rein. If that doesn't work, then I need to leg yield him into the middle a bit (or turn him to the inside) and then leg yield him back out. (Oh hey... like what Julie Z was having me do with Fleck.. yield him out... yield him out). This way I'm teaching him that there's no way around the bend. He must bend and give his ribcage to me. The bend is more important than the geometry of the arena at this point. She also pointed out that I'm tipping my head to the inside and not looking where I need to be. It was amazing how Danny would really follow my eyes. I mean.. he really went to the trail when I looked just outside the rail. And did all the other things like lift and bring my inside shoulder and elbow back, etc. ;) But he gets it!
On Tuesday we worked on the same stuff but took it a bit farther. When he got stiff in his shoulders, I would just leg yield him in a few steps and then back out. And oh.... he would just get off that shoulder, yield his ribcage and go into the outside rein with a nice supple bend. :) Yay! Of course it doesn't last but a few steps, but it's getting there. I also focused on my head position with much better success. And he was a bit more forward. Of course I also put my spurs back on. I was tired from the day before! ;) We worked on the canter a bit more and Cindy was saying that he's so long legged and long strided and short backed that we needed to allow that lift. To do that we need to let him go big first before we worry about shortening him. And unfortunately my way of riding his canter was to come down just as he was reaching his peak, effectively putting him on his forehand. She wanted me to ride the stride forward and to encourage him to reach just a bit longer with each stride. So my seat had to go forward and up. I'm not sure I was accomplishing it but apparently so. She described his canter as a wave. I was getting just ahead of it and bring it crashing down. Instead, she wanted me to get just behind it and push it forward more. I likened it to riding an actual wave at the beach. If you get ahead of it, you get nowhere. But if you get just behind the motion, you catch the energy and can ride that wave all the way to shore. :) So yep.. like that. But man is his stride long and big.
It was a productive two lessons. We worked hard but he was still having fun and we made progress from the first to the second lesson. Both of us! I was able to get better about my head position and my evil left side and Dan was more ahead of my leg and listening to my leg yielding cues better. :)
After the lesson, he had to hang out at the Academy while I adjusted two. He made friends with Santo. :)
It's funny how he's teaching me as much as I'm teaching him. Fleck is great, but he knows all my faults and just... carries on. Dan doesn't know but he also is trying. However, if I am telling him something wrong because my body is wrong, he doesn't know how to correct it and fix it, like Fleck does. Which is great!!! It's helping me become much more aware and hopefully I can fix it quicker because of that. :)
So yep.. glad I braved the weather and lack of sleep because it was two good rides. :)