Okay... so fleck was AMAZING!!!!! today! It was seriously one of our best dressage rides ever! Sandy even said it was the best she's seen me ride. No more lala land today! :)
It was great! I don't even entirely know how I did it! In a way, it was kind of nice that it just sort of happened... because I think I was reacting without having to think. But on the other hand... how do I make sure I recreate it!? :)
It was that same feeling I had in my jump lesson where the energy was just there! I was able to finesse it. I didn't have to create it, force it, make it happen. It was just there and I was able to enjoy it. Fleck seemed to be having a lot of fun too!
It was hard, but I was able to just let my legs hang. I had my legs on him, but just barely. So then I could just barely move them and get a reaction. But I was actually able to do that today without clenching my butt or perching! And I got him in both reins and he even yielded his left barrel to my left leg and wasn't leaning. Whoo hooo!!! I was able to sit easily and go with him. And then, when we got a bit too big for our britches... if I just stopped and thought about slowing my breathing and then slowing my post, he slowed. It was soooo cool!
We had our best canters yet. Both sides! He was almost sitting and lifting his withers, his neck was loose and supple and his head hanging (instead of braced). And he was reaching with his hind legs. I had to really sit back and deep and focus on creating the lift out of the deep sit. And then, he would go there, and then lose it, and then go there, and then lose it. I had to help him maintain it. And lo and behold, I got to where I could catch him before hand and help him!!!!! I'm so proud of both of us. It was a very subtle line, but I was able to get it. A deep sit and lift with my core, an occasional half-halt, every few strides, with that outside rein, but I HAD to give it up too so that he couldn't hang on me and so that he could bend around (especially tracking right). I tend to hold him on that left rein so that he can't bend. And I have to give him a bit more rein so he can go down before he lifts. In other words, his head and neck have to go down and then he can lift his wither. And there was a bit more inside rein that I thought... but almost an opening rein. But again, I had to allow that left side to stretch. Going to the right, I had to be a bit stronger with my left leg and almost think of leg yielding him out, but catching him with my right leg so he didn't bulge. I think I'm so afraid to use my outside leg on him that I let him drift. And I had to almost overbend him to the left. I don't think he's really overbending in the neck, but it feels that way. I just have to make sure it's in his whole body, not just his neck. But that makes his hind end travel better. And I need to open the left rein. It worked much better when I left my elbow at my side but pivoted my hand out. I can't just take my whole arm to the inside, I really need to leave my elbow put.
And that's the other thing... I really need to control my darn elbows. When they stay at my side, I can open my shoulders and use my core. And sit better. And Fleck goes better. As Sandy says, Fleck can't know where my hands start and the rein ends... he needs to feel like the rein ends at my elbows. And keep my fingers closed around the reins.
So yeah... it was fantastic!! We got some nice trot work too. But that canter.... oh it was so much better!!
Oh, and we may have figured out the darn leg yields too. I know, it's such a simple exercise, but somehow I managed to break it.
Leg yielding right, I need to really keep him supple in that right rein and use my right leg to catch him from going too lateral. He almost needs to be overbent in his flexion. I don't think that's the right way of saying it, but that's how my brain was perceiving it and that's what I was thinking was happening when we got good leg yields.
Leg yielding left, I need to make sure to get the flexion that way too. And shoot... I don't remember the nuances to get that one... argh!
But oh well. I can't wait to ride again and see if I can get it on my own! I wish I had pictures and videos to see how good he looked. Of course, I'm sure he just looks like a normal horse and not like a grand prix dressage horse! Which is what it felt like to me!! :) But still.. normal horse is a good start for us! I'm so sick of inverted, braced, mincy dressage photos! I want soft, supple pony! It's time to get greedy!