My lesson started off decently and overall it was a very good lesson with lots of learning and figuring out. It just wasn't all and rainbows and unicorns. :) We worked on getting him straight. Looking in the mirror, especially when tracking left, it appears that his shoulders are out but his nose is in. Sigh... So I had to very much make sure that I was riding his shoulders in line with his butt and then his head in line with his shoulders. Which was tough. So... a bit of shoulders in but really pushing him into the outside rein. ??? I think... Cindy said I was getting the diagonal pair rein aids. So yay! Actually, there was a lot of me actually RIDING today and figuring stuff out and feeling stuff. And a lot of me not reacting in my old typical ways (ie wrong and out of frustration and irritation). So yay for that! I was reacting and using my seat to soften rather than going straight to the reins. So whooo hooo!
I also worked on my seat. I swear.. this is where I really wish I had the soloshot or something. Daily! What I THINK I'm doing vs what I'm ACTUALLY doing are so different... And until I see it, my brain isn't convinced that I'm wrong. So... today, while working on my seat, it really felt like my knees were out like chicken wings and I was pinching up in my leg. Cindy kept saying YES so... maybe it's a work in progress, and that once I get my seat fixed, then we can address my legs?? Or maybe it's not as bad as it feels. But it's really hard for me to relax my butt and keep my legs straight and down. I either relax my butt and pinch up my legs, or get my legs straight and down and tighten my cheeks. Or at least that's what it feels like. So.... ?? It would be nice to see. But anyways, I worked on rolling my butt underneath me and then almost rolling it in the saddle. And using my seat as an aid rather than bouncing around. And then I asked Cindy if I was bouncing because she was saying YES when I felt bouncy. So.. she had me put the reins in the outside hand and my whip in the outside hand and then put my hand underneath my cheeks at the canter. And huh.... sure enough, I wasn't actually bouncing out of the saddle. It also helped me keep my inside shoulder up and back and not collapsed. So... neat trick to remember. And, I need to stop standing in my stirrups and bracing and using my knee bend as the shock absorber. I need to use my ankles... Which also means my seat sinks down into the saddle. Argh... We also worked on getting a bit more forward with the canter. Which I think is something Beth had said too. He gets a little too up and down and doesn't reach out and forward. NOT down and forward mind you... Nope. We want up, out and forward. So I had to swing my hips forward a bit longer. And it works. Neato!
Of course before we worked on the canter we had to get into the canter. And I swear.. I keep asking wrong. I'm getting the right lead instead of the left and vice versa. Ugh.. what the heck?!?! Seriously?!! How can we have won practically every show last year and now I can't even get the right lead?? Sigh... And go me, because instead of getting frustrated and taking it out on Dan, I stopped and asked Cindy for help. She pointed out that I needed to put him in shoulder fore before I asked and that I didn't ask with my leg (so therefore I needed to stop kicking frantically) and ask with my seat. Sigh... Ok... Fine.... And doh, it worked. Argh. I honestly kind of thought that's what I was doing?? I mean, I was pushing him into the outside rein and stepping into the outside stirrup to help lift my inside seat.... But when I thought of just doing a hair shoulder fore and then lifting... it worked. Then we worked on the 3 loop serpentine too and it wasn't perfect, but it was getting better. I had to think of making my body like I do when I ride a circle... and then keep that posture yet drift off the circle. I think??? It was hard and I never quite really felt like I got it long enough to accomplish the entire 3 loop. We came close and we actually got it a time or two, but we never really nailed it.
So.. then we were almost done and Cindy called me out on using the whip and not having him in front of my leg. It felt a little bit like she was picking on me but she wasn't. It was totally me being all "victim-y" and sensitive... and it's because I know she's right. I tried to make an excuse that I felt like I was beating him all the time then.. And she helped me out. She explained that she had fallen into that trap too. And that the whip was different than the leg. And that Dan was a championship horse... which means, we'd end up in championship classes... and you're not allowed to use a whip. So I had to back up my leg aids with LEG AIDS! And that I was riding way too hard and that my leg aids were supposed to be whispers to pay attention and listen to what I'm about to say. Not a constant aid to keep him moving. How on earth am I supposed to get an extended canter or pirouette if I have to work that hard just to keep him trotting? Sigh.... She's right. And I wanted to cry. Because I KNOW THIS! I KNOW THIS yet I keep falling into this trap. I start off my ride demanding it but then I get sucked into it. And I feel like people are judging me for constantly beating my horse. But I guess I'll just have to man up and deal. And drop the whip for a couple of rides (or more) and use my legs. Pony club kicking style commencing. So we played with it a little bit. And sure enough... after a few reminders, he was hot off my leg and forward and going. And our leg yields were way better! Because he was moving forward and I could direct the sideways instead of direct the sideways and push him forward. Yeah.... #shetoldmeso #alsobethtoldmeso #alsokellytoldmeso #iknowthisyetcantseemtograsptheconcept
So yeah... A good ride with lots of good moments, but some frustrating aggravating ones on my end. My plan is to get up super early tomorrow and ride at home before work so that I can practice without the whip and practice some before the show. I've got a lesson with Beth but I really want to jump with her Thursday. Because... Tues dressage, thurs dressage and sat dressage.... That's a lot of dressage. ;)
So... tomorrow morning.... no whip. Pony club kick if necessary then back to whisper. Butt in the saddle and rolled under me. Inner calf aids not heel or spur (In fact, I may take my spur off too), upright left shoulder (tall rebars) and forward a hair longer each stride. So... we'll see. :)