So, as you know I have a lot of trouble getting PJ to go. While I was away on vacation I had Bridget ride him a couple of times to see if she could rev him up. Well, she had no problems getting him to move out and didn’t understand why I did. Neither did I. Barbara watched her ride him and said he looked amazing. On the one hand, I was thrilled that my horse has the ability to be a real dressage horse but on the other hand I was discouraged because I knew his issues were me.
Today’s lesson was a real eye opener. Although I knew I was restricting him somehow, I couldn’t figure out how that was. I didn’t think I was pinching with my knees or pulling back with my hands, or doing one of a dozen other things regularly associated with slowing a horse down. As with everything – if I knew I was doing it incorrectly, I wouldn’t do it that way.
When I asked PJ to trot off, Barbara suggested I ride him in two-point. The key was to really flex in my joints. It took a bit to find my balance and I needed to press my hands into the crest of PJ’s neck but then all of a sudden the feeling in my body changed. I felt I was tipped forward and moving a lot, but yet when I looked in the mirror I looked pretty good. What that meant was that I finally felt what it was like to open and close my ankle, knee, and hip joints in time with his motion. I could start posting lightly and maintain the feeling and whenever I lost it, I just went back into two-point.
Now, this is a very basic concept that is fundamental for any type of English riding (dressage and jumping). I thought I had understood it but obviously, I didn’t. Bouncing is the best way to describe the feeling. And low and behold, the more I bounced, the more in front of the leg PJ went. I could get him going forward!
Then for our canter departs, Barbara suggested I stay in two-point when I asked. Because I had PJ pushing from behind and actually moving, the departs were right there, without him throwing his head. We didn’t get them all perfect, but it was a HUGE improvement.
In addition, when I “bounced” I felt more secure in my position, stronger. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I think I’ve overcome one significant hurdle. Tomorrow I’ll practice on my own and see if I can get that feeling back. I believe it is the key to progressing.