Danny was actually a super good boy today! He got a bath yesterday morning but was dirty again so I got up early and bathed him. He didn't roll in his stall, only cause I caught him pawing and gave him alfalfa hay while I was finishing up. But he did lean against his feed pan and gave himself a big green smear across his butt. Sigh... Oh well. I wiped it off as best as I could.
We got to High Point and Cindy said to not really be warmed up, so we headed down there. Isabel was soooo nice and asked about us and what was on our "wish list" of stuff for the lesson. Oh.... there was only about a million things I wanted to work on! I think I mumbled something about how I was too loud with my aids and he was very good at listening when I whispered but I keep forgetting to whisper or get talked into yelling. I also said that I was afraid I was getting too handsy and riding front to back. I also wanted to mention my annoying right leg and my seat not sitting in the saddle in the canter, but we left it at the whisper and handyness. She asked us to warm up and do just a little at the walk and trot and canter so she could see us go. As I was finishing she said "Can I tell you what's on my wishlist"? Of course!! She said that we were a pleasing picture and I was doing a good job but she wanted to fix my leg. YES PLEASE!!!! We've only been working on that for like... ever!!
It was great though!! She focused on that and basically told me to ignore Dan. This wasn't about him and his form. It was about me. So... basically I'm standing on my toes and not sinking my weight into my heels. She wanted me to almost flex and extend my heel (subtly) and keep my leg still. She wanted me to turn my toes in and my heels out so I wasn't spurring him constantly and use the inside of my calf rather than the back of it. Okay... sure... all things Cindy and I have been working on forever. But because that was the ONLY FOCUS... it was easier to make it happen. And maybe it's the new saddle too. ;) The County Effortless... I mean the County Epiphany. We started at the canter because she said that was easiest. And for sure. I felt like I was able to get it but then.. in an effort to bend my heel.... I started...pumping my legs?? Like.. I was pushing them down and forward in an effort to make my heel bend. NOPE... that's not it. She told me to allow my knee to relax and open. Which... I don't know how to make that happen, but... I focused instead of turning my knees and thighs in a bit, thus turning my toes in, and... keeping the weight in my heels rather than making my heel flex and extend. And it got better. Way better! At first, Dan broke from the canter to the trot, but we eventually got the hang of me closing my leg if needed and him realizing that he could keep cantering without me constantly asking him. Pretty cool!
So then we moved to the posting trot. Kind of tough. I got swingy and kicked my leg out in front of me some. So then she had me go into two point. Which was awfully embarassing as it was awful. I couldn't figure out how to in the new saddle and she pointed out that all I did was tip forward. I needed to push my hips behind me first, and then my upper body naturally falls into place. Yep... That's exactly what I've been working on in my jumping lessons too. Sigh... So then I was able to figure out how to do that in the dressage saddle and it got better. And then I focused on keeping my lower leg still but not standing on my toes. And... miraculously I was able to do it!! And when I got it... Dan got swingy!!! And I didn't have to ask or do anything other than maintain the connection and every so often half halt the outside. It was SOOOO COOL!! So then we worked on influencing his back. She said to sit quickly and rise slowly and... it took a second to get it, but... when I got in the rhythm of it... Dan got even nicer!!! It was so cool!!
We then tried it very briefly at the sitting trot and it.. was easier in some ways, but not in others. We didn't do much with the sitting trot.
When we were done Isabel said that the sitting trot wasn't as nice because Dan wasn't as swingy in his back. She said that I could use the posting trot to get him swinging and then it would gradually build into the sitting trot and this would really help with him getting more collection as we moved into 2nd level.
So yep.. Pretty cool stuff. I hope that I can maintain it. And also super cool that my weekly dressage coach (Cindy!) has pretty much been harping on me to do the same stuff that Isabel, who just taught all of the US riders at WEG seat lessons, worked on with me. :) Yep. I'm pretty spoiled. :)
It'll be fun to play with this the next few rides and see if I can make it more natural and reflexive for me. And I do think the new saddle is making it easier to relax my lower leg and knee and not automatically tense up in my seat. :)
Then poor Dan was such a good boy and hung out in the paddock while I worked on 4 horses. I turned him out and he met Hosannah over the fence. She squealed and spun and kicked out and he was like "whatevs" and walked back to his hay pile. Ha ha. He hung out even when they all went back in and just chilled. Then we hauled down the road so I could adjust one more horse and he hung out in her stall and played with the horse next to him while I finished. So yep... take your pony to work day. :) He was super though!