I understood it a little bit more each time but I think today I really got it. Beth started Dan for me and got him straight, which made it a lot easier to feel.
She and I were talking while she was riding and she was saying that to her, he felt much straighter to the left... HMMMMM??? But that she could see how I felt like he was falling in with his hips and flinging out with his shoulder. I also think I tend to create it somehow, so we decided to figure it out when I got on. However, she did notice that during the transitions, she felt what I felt all the time. She said during the transitions, he does fling his shoulders to the inside which flings his feet to the outside. Which is what Cindy says. However, my brain disagrees. My brain thinks it's his outside shoulders flinging out. But between my last lesson and this one, I'm understanding the difference.
So.... what works for me and my brain... currently at least. When tracking to the left... I picture myself sitting square and lifting my inside seat bone (I think I was collapsing hard core to the left) and thinking of lifting his rib cage up and into my outside leg and rein. The other little magical piece that makes the world of difference... I have to NOT CROSS HIS NECK with my outside rein. I have to take hold and get a connection, but not hang, and almost think of dropping my hand to the back and outside.... like lateral. I almost have to open that rein to make it work. But... it gives his shoulders a place to go, which makes his feet come up square underneath him and allows his rib cage to lift on the inside. MAGIC!! And then, like I realized before, when he's square and lined up, he can be forward. And obviously, he's bent, but... he's tracking square.
So then going to the right, I need to lift my right rein. Which I think is what I did the other day when Cindy got so proud of me. Again, sit square.... ride inside leg to outside rein. BUT... Beth noticed that when she half halts on the inside rein like normal, it pulls the bit back into his mouth. Which makes Dan almost cock his head or twist it, thus kinking his neck. So there isn't a flow of energy because of the kink. So... if we lift the right hand up in the air (almost ridiculously so), it lifts the bar of the bit into the top corner of his mouth and it helps him align his head and poll softly so that he can flex correctly and there is a energy flow. :)
So.... I did both canters and worked on that and they were lovely!!!
Beth also worked on getting him to throw his haunches out at the walk and trot while staying bent in the front end. I didn't do any of that but plan to at the next ride. Hopefully I can sneak one in tomorrow evening so I can play some before my lesson with Cindy. :)