Today was a great day!! It was wet and nasty and chilly, but it was a great day! I had a great lesson with Cindy. It was hard, and mind boggling, and challenging, but it was good!!
It started out with Dan being lame again. Sigh... but Cindy pointed out that I was crossing his neck with the left hand again and hanging on him and not giving him a place to go. So... the goal is to ride him slightly haunches out, shorten the right rein and keep the right side connected (I keep wanting to throw that away at him), and to get him off my left leg, bending around it. It helps too if I think of leg yielding him into the outside (right) rein. So.. basically I'm making Dan lame. Because... Cindy told me to trot with my left hand at the cantle... and suddenly Dan went from lame to sound. Sigh... I didn't want to pick the reins back up. But I did. And.. if I kept my inside (left) shoulder back (not collapsing and sucked down and foward) and kept my left hand from crossing the neck (basically I rode with it way out to the side, at least in my mind, I'm sure it wasn't that far out) and kept that opening rein without pulling back or across his neck.. he was sound. And quite lovely at times too.
So anyways, we had some decent trot work and some decent leg yields. Cindy also reminded me that I was getting him with my spur non-stop. And she told me to turn my heels out. I did.. but it was hard for me to hold that. So then she told me to ride like I would if I didn't have the stirrups to hold me up. So I "dropped" them and felt a little like I was pinching with my knee and upper thigh but when I did that Cindy was like "YES!!!! THAT!!!"... Well okay... I can do that easily enough. So I spent the rest of the ride (when I wasn't overly focused on something else) thinking of riding like I was riding without stirrups. It seemed to make Cindy happy and Danny too. Cool beans. So then I was starting to play with the canter some but then Cindy had me try some stuff. She had me do some shoulder ins. BUT... the trick is... it's not a leg yield... it's not a circus trick. It's purpose is to get the horse round and into the outside rein and soft and supple. So... especially tracking left... I need to make sure my inside leg is forward by the girth, so that I am asking Dan to bend around my inside leg. Not just pulling his shoulders over and pushing his haunches out. Aha!!! It DID make the trot SOOOOO much better. But it's hard to do. :)
So then we started to canter and Cindy wanted me to canter, do a 10 meter circle, and then canter haunches in. Holy moly it was hard. We started tracking left and I just couldn't get it. Even though apparently that is how he typically travels that way at the canter (haunches in). Cindy kept saying that I was sitting to the right and not to the left. I just couldn't get my body to cooperate. So we went the other way and it was so much easier. I thought about riding it as if it was at the trot and just moved my seat and it worked. So then we went back to the left and I tried much harder to think about shifting my seat left. It was hard! SO hard! So then Cindy told me to drop my right stirrup. OHhhhh...... Dan kept falling out of the canter but.. it made the canter so much better with my right foot out of the stirrup. And then I was trying to sit on my left seat bone instead of sitting to the right. I tried digging it in.... really sitting heavy on that side.. I even got so desperate that I threw my shoulders to the left and about fell off the side of my horse. Cindy laughed at me. BUT... I did eventually get it, but really it clicked into my brain when she said to sit left but LIFT my left seatbone. Ohhhhhhh.... I think I was trying so hard to sit left that I was cramming my left seat into him and shutting him down. Once I thought of lifting the left seatbone it magically got way better. And then he broke... and we were both tired, so... We left it at that. I got it. He was able to go haunches in! So.. Cindy said to play with it at home. She also pointed out that when I thought about lifting my left seat bone I tended to engage the muscles just underneath my butt cheek. And that created tension in my knee. So instead I had to think about lifting the left seat with my muscles in front of my hip, not quite my groin muscles, but almost. My core really. OOOOOHHHHHHHH... So sure enough, that works. :) So.. yep, lots to play and practice with.