Today was dressage day (And also Taco Tuesday, but... whatever!). And Danny was great!!
Today was a lot of epiphanies for me. Danny was great and gave me some lovely work but I think a lot of it had to do with my body and what I was allowing/asking him to do too. Basically Cindy focused on my left shoulder. We were trying to do shoulder in, which is soooo hard for me. She was saying that I needed to keep my hips straight and square and turn my shoulders, mirroring what I wanted Dan to do. And I thought I was. But apparently not. My left hip kept wanting to slide forward and my left shoulder was not turning. So she had me grab the cantle with my left hand. Ohhh...... Ooooooohhhhh. That really turns my left shoulder (well, my whole chest). And... then when I did that my left hip wanted to slide a bit forward so I had to focus on keeping my weight in the left seat bone. Actually I had to focus on that a lot today, not just when we did the shoulder in. But it made a big difference. Of course I almost felt like I couldn't do it without physically grabbing the cantle. So... I need to work on that. It did help to think of lifting that shoulder up and back rather than just turning my chest.
I also was very aware of my body in general and tried very hard to keep my hips even and straight and bend my body how I wanted Dan to bend his body. And that helped a lot with the ribs and the bend.
The other thing I was trying to work on was not riding on my toes. I almost had to think about dropping my stirrups and lifting my toes to avoid standing on my toes. Which did help my butt sink into the saddle, which made Dan halt. Doh! But if I did that AND lifted my core/belly button and thought about lifting my chest (opening up the hinge that wants to collapse between my shoulder blades), it kept him moving forward nicely. And Cindy complemented my seat at the canter when I did that so yay!!!
It was great fun. We did some sitting trot and then worked on the leg yield. We tracked right and leg yielded left down centerline the first time. And it was at the sitting trot. And it was glorious!!!! Like he just danced along and kept the impulsion and the bend and the cadence. Cindy said it would have been an 8/8.5!!! It felt awesome. Of course we blew it going to the right. He doesn't want to cross over with that right hind. And I get grabby with the left rein. But we did salvage it and get a few nice steps.
Oh, and then after the lesson I mentioned to Cindy that I was worried about how he would throw that head up in the air and "hop" on the front right occasionally. I figured it was him just throwing himself into the next gait, but... I wanted to make sure she didn't see any lameness. She said that it was basically because I wouldn't let go of that darn left rein! I was basically so hung on the left rain with it braced into his neck, and so loose and free on the right rein, that I was blocking his left side and opening up the right side so he could pop up. She did soften it and tell me that he was also right handed and that it was easier for him than real work so he did it. But... sigh!! So... it makes sense now. It doesn't feel like I"m really hanging on that rein, but I know I am. But at least now... now that she pointed it out to me... I can hopefully start to realize that I'm doing it. She said I correct it when she tells me but if her voice isn't in my head... I bop along not addressing it. So perhaps now... when he flings himself that will trigger in my brain "Hey... you're holding the left rein...... and abandoning the right rein" and I'll be able to fix it.
And man... I do love this saddle. I can feel soooo much more in it. Not just what Dan is doing underneath me but also what I am doing and how crooked I am. SOOOO helpful!
It's nice to have good rides and feel like you're making progress :) I'm sure some of it is the saddle, some of it is that Danny is a LOVELY horse and making progress, some of it is that I'm making progress (and partly because Danny is a nice horse and I can feel some things I couldn't on Fleck and partly because I've grown and am riding better than I did on Fleck), and partly because of Cindy's expertise on my body awareness and how I influence pony. :)
And then we can't forget Kelly and Beth's help too. :) It's all part of the puzzle. :)