I started watching videos on YouTube. I wanted to see what a canter depart is supposed to look like, so I searched for “canter depart” and “dressage”. I got some descent videos of good riders and some horrible videos of beginners. I shut off the bad videos as soon as I could tell they wouldn’t show me a good transition, so that my brain wouldn’t even have it anywhere to reference.
I then changed tactics and looked for videos of riders I admired. I started with Steffan Peters. I had met him at a symposium. Besides being a phenomenal rider, he was a nice guy. I watched a selection of videos. Most were of him on Ravel, but not all. Most were at shows or clinics, but a few were at home. The biggest thing I took away from those videos was how much Steffan uses his core. I noticed how his posting started from his (very fit) stomach going forward, how his body stayed straight during the canter depart because his core moved with the horse, and how his seat never left the saddle during the sitting trot, again because his core was working so hard. I tried to imagine what it felt like to do what he did.
I hope I will be able to translate my imagination to the real world.