An Epiphany Lesson

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.

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