My lesson last night was so good I couldn’t stop thinking about it and decided I had to write a post about it. A small but spectacular thing happened. I looked down at my hands at one point and they were correct. My outside hand was an inch from the withers, my inside hand was about two inches from the withers, my thumbs were up and they were in front of the pommel. So simple, yet I’ve been trying to get to this point for almost 2 years now.
When I first sat on my very green mare 2 years ago and decided I wanted to learn dressage, my hands were quiet. Very quiet. So quiet they never moved. My trainer would say “wiggle the inside rein”, “squeeze the outside rein”. What?? What does that even mean. Even now I have to remind myself to have some play with my fingers every few strides. Luckily I’m to the point where when my trainer says half-halt, I’m already half-halting, or when she say shorten your reins I just had the same thought. Timing is everything. This is probably related, but last night was also the most steadily connected we’ve ever been. I had much fewer moments when there was slack in the reins.
Not surprisingly, once I figured out my hands, they became much less important than my seat and my leg. So yes I have a good connection, but now I need consistent forward. Prior to last night I could get away with using my heels, or using what I can only describe as leg flaps, not really a kick, not really a squeeze either. This only works for a few strides and it makes her tense and unbalanced. So I have some homework…dropping my leg below the knee, keeping my toes forward and squeezing with my calf. This position is not natural for my body but so much more effective that I can’t argue with the result. We started first at the canter and oh my. Suddenly Savy seemed to melt and spring forward at the same time. She was relaxed, correctly bent to the inside, on the outside rein and oh so wonderful. It’s amazing what tiny differences can make 🙂