Today was a great lesson!! It was challenging and tough and my poor little brain was just a-churning away into overdrive. But it was so helpful!!! And I feel like we've suddenly upped the game and both Dan and I are stepping up to the plate. :) We're struggling, but we're trying and we're getting there. :)
Basically we worked on our trot and my position. Cindy said that my stirrups were actually looking a hair long. And I kind of agree. Although in some ways they feel too short too. It's odd in that saddle. She said if I was finding myself reaching for them then I need to shorten them. And also not to work so hard cramming my heels down. Which.... threw my brain into overdrive because I feel like my problem is that I'm standing on my toes. And NOT sinking my weight into my heels. My conclusion was that in an effort to compensate, I overdid it again. :) I think that trying to avoid standing on my toe is creating me jamming my heels down. So... I tried to fix it by focusing more on my upper thighs turning in and my toes turning in. And by sinking my weight into my heels but not jamming them. I think it worked. Of course at the canter, every time I did that Dan would break. Which.. I think was a good thing. I mean, I think it meant that he felt the change and I just need to get him used to that amount of seat and close my leg (without digging my spur into him).
We got some pretty nice trot work out of him. He was still wanting to not contract that right side of his body, but we got some good stuff and worked through it. I felt like I was riding better today and doing things trying to fix it rather than just crossing the rein over his neck. Although Cindy did say that I was recognizing the problem, but my reaction on how to fix it needed to be changed. ooops. Oh well. Some of the things I got right. I think. :)
We also worked on walk to canters and keeping him connected on the right rein. He's not allowed to throw himself to the left. He MUST shorten and collect the right side. It was hard but it got better. Mostly it's just me making sure that I don't give up the right rein. And then Cindy upped the ante! Holy moly! She had us walk to canter... then 10 meter canter circle and then as we came back to the rail, walk..then walk to counter canter! Oh my gosh!! It was hard. We managed to circles but it was tough at first. Then we managed to do a somewhat fairly respectable walk to canter to walk for our first few tries. I mean.. respectable for our first try, not respectable as a legit transition. :) And the counter canter to the right lead wasn't bad. But the left lead counter canter was darn near impossible!!! But it brought something to light! That is hard for a reason!!! The exact reason eludes me at the moment, but I think it's because Dan wants to lengthen the right side and throw himself left... (wait... thought tornado!!!! I thought that was our easier lead.. it's the right lead he hates and wants to give me the left all the time.???? I'm so confused!). I have no idea.. but trying to get him to give me the left lead, while tracking right, from the walk... was REALLY REALLY HARD!! It took multiple attempts. And then once we started to get the hang of it... I couldn't keep it. The trick was that I had to ride shoulder in and make sure to keep my outside leg back, but not digging my spur into him. And I had to lift his left rib cage with my left toe so that he could wrap himself around it and canter. And Dan keeps throwing me off his right side, so it's not just me asking wrong. So... IF I kept my right hip back.... not just my right leg back.. my right hip back and lifted my left hip forward and up, and kept my toe in his left sternum... we got it.
So then.. how to keep it. Especially on the short side. I couldn't figure it out. I honestly couldn't figure out how to turn right while keeping him flexed left. I KNOW I know how to do it as we do the counter canter serpentine but my brain just was... flabberghasted at that point. So I stopped and Cindy talked me through it. I had to almost ride half pass or leg yield to the rail (so... leg yield or half pass to the left.. into the rail) and I also had to KEEP MY LEFT TOE FORWARD and my right hip back. We got it. Barely. And it was tough. And unfortunately both times it was really bad timing with where the other riders ended up in the arena so I had to abandon ship a bit early to avoid ruining it. But.. he did it. And Cindy pointed out that while it was a struggle... the canter we had for a little bit of the straight line was AMAZING!! :) :) :) And it really helped my brain realize things.
So yep... a really good lesson. I know it sounds like it was frustrating and difficult and it was.. but it was also fun. I could FEEL THE GOODNESS coming out of it. :) Oh, and we also got one really nice On the Aids flying change! Granted it was the hard side to his easy side. And I didn't ask on purpose. But Cindy said that I distinctively swapped my seat aids and he answered. Ooops. :) Not yet Daniel! Not yet! :)
So yep... A whole lot of fun today. I can't wait to play with it more. But poor me and poor Dan. We sort of are still struggling with the true lead transitions and now we're throwing this into the mix. But.. it'll be a good thing. It'll make my be more aware of my body position and the effects it's having. :)
Phew... I'm tired again. My core was a bit winded. :)