The first half of my lesson was dedicated to PJ. He didn’t feel quite as good as yesterday but I really didn’t expect him to. To get him going we cantered. Barbara had me do the same thing at the canter as I did at the walk at a previous lesson. Around the short side I held my arms against my side so that his mouth hit the bit – the reins got slack and tight with his stride. Then down the long side I let him take the bit and open his frame and his stride.
Next we tried leg yield. The biggest problem was that he wouldn’t listen to my leg to move over. It was okay work but not great because he did a lot of leading with his shoulders. That’s when the focus shifted to me. Barbara said that he wasn’t listening to my leg because I bang him with my leg with each stride of the trot. I see in the mirror that my lower legs move with his movement but I didn’t think I was hitting him.
She said I had to always keep my calf on and I told her I know and I’ve tried but no matter what I’ve done, it hasn’t helped. I tried putting my leg forward, putting it back, keeping my ankle stiff, turning my toes in, turning them out, etc, but the mirrors showed nothing changed. She had the brilliant idea to tie my stirrups to the girth. Now that was a different feeling! At first PJ and I were both confused. PJ came around a lot faster than me.
We started at the walk, with me squeezing each of my calves in time with his walk – right, left, right, left. Then she had me half-halt and go forward. PJ was to shoot forward when I put my calves on. The first time I needed to whac k him but then he got it. Lastly we went to the trot. At first it was just so I could get the new feeling then we started half-halting and going forward. My leg position definitely felt differently. My entire body felt straighter – I didn’t feel like I had so much angle in my knee or hip joint. My ankle went wobbly and my stirrup was sitting on my pinky toe instead of the ball of my foot. The amount of force between just having my leg on and using it was very slight. Barbara said my upper body looked much better – like I was using my core more and that I was straight laterally. But I was still using my heel too much.
At the end of my lesson we decided that I should continue to ride with my stirrups tied to the girth and I should take away my spurs. Oh joy!