First off, let me say that I am still not fully recovered from my day of no stirrups. My upper inner thighs hurt, my lower back aches, and I think I pinched a nerve in my upper back. But I am liking my stirrups a hole longer. However, PJ did think he could be lazy the day after, and Barbara really didn’t see a change in my position. In fact, she came up with more to critique – I sit too far back in the saddle during canter, I always loose my outside rein going to the left, I let him lean to the inside in both directions, etc.
I went home after my lesson discouraged but not defeated. After thinking it over I came to the conclusion that the root of all of my problems was that PJ was not moving off my inside leg. Not moving off my inside leg made me compromise my position, which didn’t help him move forward and made me loose my outside rein because I was twisting in an effort to use more leg. I wasn’t sure not sure if it would fix the canter issue, but I figured I would start with him moving off my inside leg.
I started with yesterday’s ride at the end after all of the excitment. I asked him to bend nicely with my inside calf. Instead, he didn’t do anything. Normally, I would use more leg and then more leg and then a kick and then a whip and then he may move over. But I was having none of it. I spun him around kicking and whipping him until I felt him move over, crossing his inside leg. Then we went forward again. I again asked him nicely to bend and step with his inside hind. When he didn’t again, I got after him again. It didn’t take him long to figure it out, and not only could I keep him properly bent around a 20-meter circle but he leg yielded easily. We did this both directions at the walk only.
Today I was determined to get the same response. Again I started at the walk. It took a couple of spinning arounds in each direction but then all I had to do was put my calf on and I got a response. Next came the trot. I think because of the walk work, it only took one spinning episode each direction but then I got some nice leg yields and quit with that.
If you think about it, its’s very simple. If he doesn’t move off my inside leg, make him move. If he turns his head to loose my outside rein, hold on to it. Simple, but difficult because first you have to feel that he’s doing something wrong. Then you have to be able to recognize when he’s doing it right so you can stop asking. Yeah right, anything but easy.