With Eyes Wide Shut Comes Greater Feel

Today I had the benefit of riding by myself, which allowed me to close my eyes and really try to feel what PJ and I were doing.  After a brief walk-trot warm-up, I attempted Barbara’s cone exercise from yesterday at the walk.  With my eyes closed I could really feel that I dropped the outside (left) rein going to the right.  Also, PJ didn’t move his inside (right) leg over and bend, so there was nothing for my outside rein to catch and I didn’t help by letting it get slack instead of following his mouth. 

Although we missed the cones sometimes due to my eyes being closed, I started to feel him stepping over and how steady I could keep the reins for even pressure on his mouth without just bending his neck.  It took a long time for me to get it and we eventually moved away from the cones.  I tried a lot of different configurations, from turning my body different ways, to raising the outside rein up to lowering the outside rein, to kicking with my inside leg, to pushing with my outside seat bone…  We also worked at the trot where I really tried to feel him serge forward when I posted bigger on the up, and collect when I posted heavier on the down.  He started doing that better too.

At this point I don’t know exactly what I did when he did everything correctly versus when we couldn’t turn or I lost him.  But at least I have an idea of the correct feeling of him stepping with his inside hind leg into my outside rein.  Now I just need to repeat it again and again and again and not revert back to old habits of dropping the contact and not getting a response to my inside leg.

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