I've had five lessons since I last wrote about a lesson. Get ready for a whole pile of biomechanics posts, Dressage nuts!
I know I've said that 'if I ride better, Connor goes better' before. Duh. But a couple of weeks ago, in a lesson in which the wheels really fell off, my trainer started in on a personal crusade to improve the way I sit.
"You sit fine, and then we add in more complex movements or Connor changes something and your position falls apart. You have to be consistent in the way you sit so that no matter what he does, you are the same, and we have to make that good position your default."
Suddenly all kinds of things came to light, I'm going to focus on one today: getting pulled out of the saddle slightly every time I use a rein aid. Not by Connor, by myself. I essentially pull myself onto my pubic bone every time I give a rein aid. Which, y'know, is often.
|Pulled out of the saddle = flat horse.|
There are a lot of side effects to that. It means my hip angle and arm length change constantly. It means Connor is getting tons of noisy, useless movement transmitted to him. And it explains why I'm more effective with my trainer (constant reminders to stay quiet and upright) than on my own.
(Side note: Connor knows how to pull me slightly out of the saddle in exactly the same way as I pull myself out of the saddle, and deploys that tactic in lessons when I juuuuust manage to get him going well. Sneaky.)
|I'm not sneaky!|
You always hear that you need to "use your core", but I'm starting to understand, at least at this point in Dressage, that the core itself is a means to something else, biomechanically. At least where I am now, using it effectively just means absorbing energy, blocking movement and keeping myself upright. I have this idea in which I'm going to ride in my weight belt sometime (whose purpose is mostly to remind you to have a tight core throughout a heavy lift), because you feel it if you let your core go loose while wearing it.
|Same test: I'm sitting taller and Connor is moving better.|
When I sit up, when my core muscles are "long" and tight up the front of my body, when my shoulders are down my back, when my chest is open, and when I am sitting back on my seatbones, all of which are becoming more automatic now, Connor pretty quickly goes really well. When I don't, he doesn't go well. Thanks to the Dressage saddle (what good freaking timing buying that thing was) and a whole pile of makeup lessons lately, I'm starting to default to that position, and our rides are becoming more consistent.