I had another brilliant side saddle dressage lesson with Lili Brooksby yesterday and I am so knackered today! She really works you and although you feel like you are going to collapse afterwards, you also feel brilliant as you did stuff that you didn't think you could do..ever!!
We worked on transitions and riding different trots and canters (i.e. collected, working and medium) which was FUN! It was a bit tricky with collecting the canter and we only aims for a few strides, but it's a balancing act between collecting and not letting the horse break into trot. I found I had to sit up, half halt with my outside rein as if I wanted a downward transition for trot but keep my leg on her to keep the energy up so that Hattie stayed in canter. We managed it a few times on each rein with a few mishaps of going into trot by accident but got a few strides in the end and then lengthened into a medium canter as a reward which was wonderful!
Practising the medium trot was also fun but also tricky as I had to feel like I was speeding up "for a gallop" but not let the trot get strung out or racing. I felt it was kind of like the same thing as collecting for canter, with maintaining a contact with the outside rein to stop speeding and also sitting up but also putting my leg on her to keep up that wonderful forward trot. Funny how similar aids achieve two different gaits!
We also continued to work on my inside rein as I have a tendency to hang off of it, especially on the right rein. This is what has been causing me so much trouble with Hattie not wanting to pick up right rein canters and just being generally in a bad mood on that rein (and also what caused us so much trouble at the last dressage test). Lili said that it was because I was giving conflicting signals with telling her to go and then blocking, that eventually a horse just gets fed up. She said that to think of my contact on the reins as "pushing" the bridle and instantly when she said that, I pictured in my mind's eye, my arms from my elbow, being long pipes connected to Hattie's mouth/bit. This was kind of a lightbulb moment and you will see a difference in Hattie attitude and gaits with my "pipe" arms.
Part of the problem which causes me to hang off the inside rein on the right rein, is when I bring my right shoulder back, my hand moves back as well so yesterday we were trying to train my lower arm to stay forward and my hand and fingers, soft and spongey. I find this really tiring with keeping my right shoulder back BUT keeping my lower arm and hard forward but the results were instant.
With our lessons, Lili explained to me that she teaches a "feeling" way to ride, not a set of rigid exercises that you do over and over again till you get it right. It's learning to ride through feeling and making mistakes too and conveniently, this way of learning how to ride, is what I need so lots of practice!
We did school today and I was working on my pipe arms, keeping my right shoulder back, my lower right arm/hand soft and forward (again, I found this knackering) and our riding was so much better this morning than it has been. Not perfect but better. Hattie was working in a nice outline and forward and we practised our routine for the individual shows that you have to do in the showing classes on Sunday. Even did a cross rail jump on each rein set on the 1'9" hole (but obviously the X part was a little lower) and Hattie was better with my pipe arms jumping too. It wasn't perfect but we're getting there.
Lili took 123 photos but here are some of my favorites from yesterday. Please ignore my horrible XL baggy top that I wear for stable use and which does me no favors in the body flattering department. I am going to burn it as it makes me look bigger than I actually am!!
I have a Pegasus and have photographic proof...
Now, if we can ride like this on Sunday, we'll be ok!!