March 19, 2011

Close Contact Saddle for the First Time in Months!

Two unusual things happened at my lesson on Thursday:
- I rode in a CC saddle in a lesson for the first time since January.
- I got the leg yield to the right!

It's been a couple of days since the lesson, so the minute details are lost, but the big picture of the lesson was something like this:
- I warmed Dillan up under saddle, including cantering.  This is the most real cantering I've been allowed to do since starting there.  Lately I've been doing lots of transitions with no more than a full 20m circle of canter.  She really took my canter back to square one and it's paying off: I'm sitting up through the transition, more effectively using my legs, I have a quieter seat and hands, and I'm more relaxed.  She had me warm him up in a half-seat, and it felt so good to just let loose at the canter for a few minutes.

- I put my stirrups where I thought they should be, warmed up, then she told me she wanted them shorter.  When she shortened them, I seriously felt like I was back up on the racehorses, and I thought to myself "There is no way that this is the correct length!" But I trust her, so I stayed quiet, and sure enough, when we got going over the poles, I realized that it was just my brain switching from serious Dressage riding to serious fences riding for the first time in my life that made them seem so short.

- I felt different in the CC saddle than I did before, and I know it's because my position has been totally changed in the last three months.  She said Thursday that when she saw me ride in a CC that first week, it was like I was locked into the saddle and my body just "clicked into place" into the position I thought I was supposed to take.  Now, she says, I'm more relaxed through all of my joints and my position is natural rather than forced.

- We did lines of poles, and it felt so good!  I felt relaxed, my hands were following him, my position was solid, and I was able to see the lines and adjust him - even when she thought I was going to fail miserably at getting a certain striding, I only barely failed - that's progress, right?  It felt wonderful, and gave me confidence for actually being able to jump at the clinic and C/T next month.

- And finally, we had multiple amazing leg yields on the right rein.  Last week's breakthrough was on the left rein, but this week's was on his hard side.  I wasn't doing too well at it until she told me to get him straight on the quarter line, almost halt him, and ask him to move just his right hind over.  Just one foot.  Well, breaking it down and bringing it back to the basics like that was just what I needed to figure out how to coordinate my body and tell him what I wanted, because we got it!  More than once!  It's nice to have a breakthrough like that.

One month until the clinic...I hope I'm ready.

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