Whoo hoo!!! Flecky was sooo good today in our dressage lesson. Poor guy.. despite not having a hind shoe I went ahead and rode him. But he honestly felt more even behind today than usual. ;) Their footing is just so soft I didn't think he'd care. And he didn't.
I started off my ride thinking "We will be dressagey and fancy and not mincy" from the get go. So while I did warm up at the walk, I made sure it was connected, even while long and low, and we did some lateral work. Then as soon as I picked up the trot I was determined to not get mincy. Cindy was proud of me for working so hard for the slow steps and sure enough, he wasn't quick. But he was sluggish, so I had to get a bit more energy out of him. I managed to do that and was able to really get some decent work. I was trying to remember the stuff that Kelly had told me in the last lesson as well as all the gems that Cindy has always had me do. And I think I was actually able to accomplish a good bit of it! Fleck was definitely tougher to get into the left rein again and now that I realize what's going on, it was a bit more frustrating to me. But we managed some good work. Until our left lead canter. I was determined to get a connection on that left rein and Flecky.... he just...couldn't.... canter... while... being... held... on...the...left....!!!! hee hee. And I remember trying to long him years ago with side reins. He is just convinced that there is no way in heck that it is possible to canter with a connection on the left side. To the point of falling down! Or counter cantering. And we did manage to get it but it was never pretty. So that will definitely be some homework. Our left lead counter canter three loop serpentine was a drunken weaving falling in and out mess. Hee hee. But our right lead one was quite pretty! And I think we did a pretty decent job on our simple changes across the short diagonal. Those are especially tough for us. I was even a bit better about sitting through them and not getting pulled forward. i did however, lose my elbows a good bit and my shoulders. I must remember to soften my shoulders and keep them back behind me. My elbows need to stay at my side yet be elastic. I was losing the connection there. And Cindy kept telling me that I wasn't riding with the back half of my body. I needed to "ride the back half of my body". That meant to put my shoulders back and down, my elbows back and down and strengthen and use that core. Oh, and then I also was losing my loose draping leg, but when I focused on rolling it in a little so I used the inside of my calf, not the back, it was better.
We finished up with some shoulder in to renvers and then some mediums. And HOLY SMOKES!!!! We had some REAL honest to goodness mediums!! I just allowed it and man... he just extended out there! And in the corner... rather than grab... I just tightened my core and held it a bit and he came right back to me!! No bracing, no falling on his forehand, no inverting... it was awesome!!! I'm so proud of him!! And me! :)
Oh, and.. hee hee... during our right lead canter... at the open end of the arena.. I wasn't sure what happened while it was happening but after talking about it with Peri... I think I inadvertently asked for flying change.. and he gave it to me!! It was "clean" but definitely not pretty. Hee hee. I think I was working so hard to get him into my left rein and then I remembered that to help him bend his ribcage I needed to turn my right shoulder in, and... suddenly his head flew up in the air and he hollowed but were suddenly on the other lead. Cindy immediately told me to not pull back, reward him, and go forward. I was so confused as to what had just happened, I did what she said. But I think she was afraid that I would get mad at him and pull back and punish him when he really did what I asked. He was expecting me to get mad though (That's a humbling reality... :( poor Fleck.....) and so he braced and hollowed ready for it. We came back to the trot and then carried on so hopefully I can break that habit which will then allow him to trust in me and break his habit. But it was kind of neat that he gave me one. I didn't even have to really ask. ;) At least.. I didn't realize that's what I was doing.
But yep... he felt really good today despite some really horrible moments too. But you know what?! That's okay because those horrible moments mean that at least I'm trying and we can work through those.