April 8, 2011

Huge Huge Huge Breakthrough!

I had a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge breakthrough yesterday!

I've been working on learning the foundations of Dressage for the past three months.  And I've had some minor breakthroughs, but nothing like last night!

First, for my last two lessons, I've ridden Mac.  Mac makes me work harder for everything than Dillan does, and I have to be continuously thinking in order to ride him well.  All in all, it's a good switch.

We started out yesterday doing shoulder-ins.  I learned last week that when my outside hand goes flat, it's because I've totally forgotten about that hand.  Have I mentioned I was extremely inside hand-dependent up until I started Dressage?  So I was already paying attention to the outside hand/rein, and when she told me to use my inside leg as his inside hind was coming off the ground at a trot to move it over, it all came together.  Outside rein holds the shoulder at the proper angle, inside rein asks for the softness and bend, inside leg asks him to step under with the hind, outside leg holds.  Boom!  Just like that we had impulsion, softness, and the perfect shoulder-in.  It was real impulsion too, like I've never felt before.  Not only did we get it, we got it all the way down one long side and one short side before we quit.  It was INCREDIBLE!  I finally know what it feels like to use each of my body parts in unison to achieve some goal through the horse's body.  It was beautiful, and really inspiring.

The other direction didn't go quite as well.  She had me only doing the shoulder-in on the circle and we did not get to do it on the rail.  I told her I found doing shoulder ins on the rail and down the centerline to be a heck of a lot easier than on the circle.  She told me that most of the Dressage world would disagree with me, and that baffles me.  Why is it easier?  It's not something I understand yet.

We ended the lesson with some actual jumping, and it'd been a year since I last jumped.  Just like all of my previous mounts, Mac got faster as we got to the fence.  She pointed out that I tensed up and drove him forward with my seat as we got closer to the fence, and that was what made him go faster.  Even when she pointed it out, and I kept doing it, I still couldn't feel myself doing it.  She finally made me get up in a half seat at the canter, get a relaxed canter, and jump that way.  When she did that, voila!  No rushing!

It makes me realize that despite really enjoying it, I am afraid of the actual act of jumping.  Two of the three horses I learned to jump on were so green or unpredictable that I never knew if I would make it over the fence alive or not.  I have some serious apprehension that is manifesting itself in actions that only make the situation worse.

For the first time in my life, I have a good feeling about my next jump lesson.

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