I don’t even know where to begin with what I learned about myself, PJ, and this thing we call dressage. I guess they are all linked anyway.
First, Barbara figured out my collapsing problem going to the left. In trying to get PJ to listen to my inside (left) leg, I sit too much on my left seat bone. PJ, being the wonder pony that he is, tries to stay under me and leans that way. Me, being the idiot that I am, tries to use more inside leg, which just puts me more on my inside seatbone. The end result is we don’t turn. Of course breaking this habit is not going to be easy because I think I’ve been doing it for a long time, even before PJ.
I changed PJ’s bit to a single-jointed Happy Mouth snaffle. He’s always opened his gums but now he’s been opening his teeth and chomping the bit (a KK ultra). On a whim I just decided to try something else and all I had was the Happy Mouth or a hollow mouth jointed snaffle. Because he has a lowish pallet, I didn’t think the hollow mouth would be a good idea. I still am undecided about the Happy Mouth. He sucked it into his back molars while we stood around but not while going. I’ll ride in it a few more times before deciding what to do. Barbara also suggested a different Happy Mouth, which she said worked wonders on two horses who used to open their mouths. It’s a mullen mouth but the straight part looks like it molded to someone holding it. If I find a cheap one, I’ll buy it and try it. After the new year, I’ll call our equine dentist to do his teeth, which I also think is contributing to the problems.
I finally got my outside rein steady, even going to the left. Barbara said it helped her other student to put his hand on his thigh to keep it steady. I didn’t do that but I did bring my hands a little lower and instead pictured planting my elbows and hands in one place, just not on my thigh. We did spiral in and spiral out while I used my inside leg and kept a hold of that outside rein. It took a while to get it but I did.
Barbara’s mantra for the day was “Outside rein, right seat bone, inside leg,” and she said this constantly during my ride. You would think that saying it once or twice would solidify it in my brain but no. When something is ingrained as much as my physical habits, it’s hard to break, which is why having someone on the ground tell me it over and over again really helps. There is just so much to think about at one time! I would concentrate on my seat bone and lose the inside leg or vice versa. I’m going to try and practice on my own, but this may be something that takes many lessons (and a lot of reminding) to overcome.
Update on the dog: She seems better today. About 90% back to normal. I switched her to a mix of dry and wet food, which she loves. As long as she’s eating, that’s a good sign. I am very thankful to have her snoring next to me right now.