It was a pretty good lesson to have before a week’s break. :D
Syd was gellin’ with me for once. AKA we didn’t have to go through twenty walk-trot-walk transitions to get a snappy response to the trot aid. He was still snaking a little at the walk, though, so tap-tap-tap until he took proper steps forward.
We did a bunch of square turns, just tuning up my aids for bend. I’m very, very slowly getting my muscle memory to remember to lengthen the inside leg for bend instead of scrunching up the calf muscle (I want to point my toes because my muscle memory remembers effin’ releve from years and years of it). If I didn’t feel his hind-end swing enough in the turn, I had to immediately tap with the whip to get him to stop trailing his hind legs. After a while, Syd anticipated that a few steps from the turn on the square, I’d ask for bend and he just.. gave it to me for free. Oh! Turn soon, so I’ll just give ya some lateral flexion - you just have to make sure your outside leg is there to complete the turn, doll. ;) In my head, I sometimes imagine he’s more of a smart-ass sassmaster than he really is. Shut up, I’m totally fabulous!!Shh, Syd. Go back into the recesses of my imagination.
New problem: Whenever I’m successfully utilizing my inside leg, my outside leg tries to compensate for what my body feels is an imbalance by flailing out and forward. I need to consciously pin my outside leg to Syd’s side and keep it just a bit behind my inside leg. If I’m not thinking about it, it just does its own thing. Stupid limbs. Learn quicker!
Also, I kept accidentally cuing for canter. They were very lovely, light canter departs though! It’s because my inside leg accidentally pressed rhythmically at the same time that I was correcting my outside leg by pulling it back. Whoops.
I’m getting more used to using the whip in an efficient way, too. It’s really helping me keep my position (no need for extra tension) while communicating to Syd my intentions without need to nag him.
I got a pretty nice trot out of Syd today, and I don’t even know what I did to achieve it! All of the tension went out of him, he stretched his neck out and down, and he rounded his back. I could definitely tell because my posting became so light and effortless. It was like posting on air. Then, when it came time to sit the trot (because Jec asked what I wanted to do and I immediately went, “Sitting trot, please!” I really love it), I felt really “plugged-into” his back. I kept my stirrups 80% of the time, too. And got back my stirrups the other 20%. Woo-hoo!
Actual canter work also happened today that was not accidental. First, we established the geometry of the circle in the sitting trot. Then, straight into the canter. Tracking right, Syd picked it up with zero problems. It was probably the best canter work we’ve done so far, which isn’t saying much, but it’s progress. I didn’t have to work so hard to “chase” the saddle because Syd’s canter was really together - that is, he didn’t speed up/lose the quality. Tracking left was another story completely. We lost the bend which meant we also lost the geometry. Then, he obviously blew through my inside leg and the canter went completely wonky. We fixed it, but the cantering tracking left really didn’t approach the quality of canter right. Also, I tended to balance on Syd’s face when cantering to the left. :/ Working on fixing that!
I’m feeling more confident about using my legs in a more minimal way. I don’t need to push so hard with my muscles when I have correct leg placement and I’m using the correct seat bone at the right time. Excited for this!
Add-on: When turning on the forehand, tap-tap with the whip if you don’t feel your inside seat bone “dropping” out from underneath you (it means he isn’t really crossing over). When you feel the drop, it means he’s actually moving his inside hind across.
TLDR; My muscle memory is getting bitch-slapped until it gets things right. Syd is a sassmaster who really isn’t unless it’s in my imagination.
One of the boarders was talking with me after my lesson, and she said she’d ask Jec if it’d be okay for me to ride her horse during a lesson to see what riding a “different” (read: cow-pony) kind of QH is like. Which is super nice of her and a bit.. too trusting? IDK if she’s ever seen me ride during more than a passing glance over the arena. I also flat-out admitted to her that my legs are sloppy and flail-y and I appreciated how generous that was, but I didn’t want to break her horse with my crooked ways. (She said I wouldn’t break him, but according to my nightmares, I probably would.) We’ll see..
One week break while my instructor teaches people on the other side of the country. Maryland, if anyone’s interested and in the area. ;)
I have a visit/interview with the backyard barn on Saturday, so I’ll get my fix of ponies then, I suppose. I can’t wait until next week when the Icelandic dressage trainer contacts me (if she doesn’t forget like most busy and successful horsepeople)!