My lesson started out as it normally does with me trying to get PJ moving. When we started to canter Barbara remarked about my position and told me to try and pay attention to how far back against the cantle I got. I couldn’t do it and keep PJ moving at the same time. I had to stop. I asked Barbara if she could put me on the lunge so we could get to the bottom of this.
Without having to worry too much about PJ, I was able to try different position changes. Barbara suggested I arch my back, and when I did that, she said “That’s it!” She said I was straighter and I was influencing PJ’s gaits better. When we cantered, I didn’t hit the saddle cantle.
Before the end of my ride Barbara and I talked about this breakthrough. It wasn’t just that I was arching my back, I was also sitting more on my crotch. I showed her my “old” position and this “new” position and she said the difference was very obvious even thought the change was in actuality only a few degrees in angle. She asked me if this new position felt strange to me. I told her that actually, it felt like my position when I used to ride Western – not the pleasure kind – I used to do Horsemanship in a Western ‘equitation’ saddle that was balanced much like a dressage saddle. She thought that maybe I’ve adopted the incorrect position from trying to push the horse with my seat. PJ is not the first dressage horse I had that needed to be pushed to go forward, so this problem most likely developed over a long period of time. I’m hoping that because this new position is really an old position, I’ll be able to more quickly change this habit. The one issue I may have is that when I used to ride QH I had terrible back pain. Since I started dressage, my back pain has been almost nonexistent (except for no-stirrup days). I’m hoping it doesn’t come back.