I also took a lesson with a local GP dressage trainer Sunday on a friend's pony. Her pony is amazing, he knows his job and if you ask correctly will happily oblige. If you don't, he'll tattle on you all day long. I got nailed for rounded shoulders right off the bat. Lifelong fault there. I've been trying to do "W's" and "Y's" recommended by my husband to strengthen my trapezius and rhomboids for the past 3 months, but I have 24 years of bad habits to undo as well as a semi-computer/desk job. After that she focused some on my posting and hip angle. I was riding in a jump saddle, which may have changed some of the advice she gave. She said I was sitting in the saddle for too long - something I've never been told before. She said "think of your breeches just grazing the saddle briefly as you post". Interesting, I'll have to play with that feel in my dressage saddle on Yosh. Then contact... oh contact... definitely things I've been told before, but forever screw up.
My right hand wanted to be heavy. The past 6 months I've been fighting pulling with my left hand. But she held the reins by his mouth and we played with contact, and I kept wanting to put too much weight in my right hand. She had me take a feel and then would tell me a number from 1-10 that was the weight of my contact. She wanted us around a 4 so that when I asked for upwards transitions, I could lighten the contact to a 3 and ask with my seat at the same time. The grading scale did help keep me honest when I went back to work with him; often my right hand was 0.5 - 1 points heavier than the left. Having to verbally tell her what number each hand was made me tune in to it much more than just getting told to quit pulling with one hand or the other. She was also very big on a very elastic contact with my elbows further forward than the dressage trainer I have been riding with has me hold them. He wants my elbows basically pinned against my sides... as I'm trying to puzzle through this, think his method is to open the hands outward to maintain a steady, elastic contact whereas hers was having me give forward and back with the elbows, never moving the elbows back behind my sides (he never has me move them back behind my body either, but does say "SQUEEZE yourself with your elbows.").
She pointed out my hands have started rotating downwards - I'm not in a terrible puppy paws position, but I'm at about a 45 degree angle rather than completely vertical with my hands. This tenses the forearm and elbow and destroys my elasticity. She was big on a passive vs. active contact and said that if the connection isn't there then you don't have a passive contact and so every rein movement feels like a signal, but they quickly tune you out if you are continually giving meaningless signals. We only got to briefly touch on the trot-canter transitions that are my nemesis, but she had me work on those by leg yielding to the rail first, then asking with an elastic contact lightened by 1 point on the scale we were using. That damn contact.
It all sounds so simple typed out, but these are the lessons I have to learn over and over and over again!
So I typed all of the above yesterday, but I'm posting this on Monday after a walk trail ride on Yoshi this morning. He was absolutely perfect. We walked past goats and cows and the most he did was trot a few steps forward when he first saw the cow. Again, this horses brain is just amazing.
But... When I got on... My seat bones were SO SORE. Apparently the sitting heavy comment yesterday was very on point. I have no idea what happened. Other than looong trail rides (3+ hours) my seat bones have never been this sore from riding. WTF. I'm hoping it was just my friend's jumps saddle putting me in a weird position, but I have so many apologies for her poor pony's back based on the way my ass felt today on the saddle! I will definitely pivo the next time I ride to make sure I'm not doing that on Yoshi. Although if it's in the next few days I should be able to very easily feel it.
|The best and bravest ears|