At my last lesson Barbara had me work on getting PJ more responsive to my aids. That meant a small nudge from my seat or calf and PJ better go or else he got whacked. I worked on it all weekend. And wouldn’t you know it – in this month’s Dressage Today there was an article on the very same topic: The Laid-Back Horse by Lauren Spriser. It suggested lightening my seat as my subtle cue to go but otherwise gave the same advice as Barbara. I liked this idea and started my ride thinking light seat = move or else.
Well, we’re trotting along and PJ felt funny to me, like his back was moving from side to side. Then we cantered and he still felt different than he normally does. Barbara even saw it. She said he looked like he was moving with his front legs wide below – not paddling, just wide. I asked her if this was a bad thing and why was he doing it. And she said… he looks like he’s more on his hind end so his shoulders are more free and he’s figuring out how to go with this new freedom. Then she said he really has his back up and doesn’t look so Friesianish – more like a real dressage WB (which is what I want, no offense to purebred Friesians). As we continued our ride he got better and better. I’m sure we’ll take a step back with our next ride but these two steps forward are inspiring to me.