First, Barbara didn’t really notice a difference with the bit. I’m going to use it a little longer and then make a decision.
Most of my lesson was fixing my position. It started with me leaning to my left and collapsing my right around the turn by the outgate. This is our problem area that seems to always spiral out of control – he drops his shoulder I use more leg, which makes me collapse, which makes him drop his shoulder more… She was trying to tell me to do things differently but when I did shift my position, it still wasn’t right. I stopped and threw my hands up because I thought I was changing my position as she asked but she said I wasn’t, so I didn’t know what to do. She suggested we go to the other end of the arena where all of the mirrors are, so as she made adjustments, I could see what they did.
She had me stand in my stirrups. If I didn’t keep my legs back, I tipped forward. As I got my balance, I could flex in my joints. As I flexed in my joints, PJ went more forward. Once I got it standing, then I went to sitting trot. The hard part was not loosing it. I definitely feel different but I’m not sure how different, meaning I don’t think I could repeat the position changes without help. This will take at least a few more lesson of Barbara telling me I got it or I don’t. The problems come in when PJ doesn’t listen, which is what happened towards the end of my lesson.
A horse was on the crossties getting new shoes and he wasn’t happy about it. As we headed towards that end of the arena, PJ spooked and tried to go the other way instead of keep moving forward around the turn. Barbara told me to turn his head in and use inside leg. If I positioned him incorrectly, so his head was out, he could continue spooking. As long as he was bent correctly, he paid attention to me. It took many times of going past the scary spot for me to finally keep him off my inside leg and looking in (and not at the naughty horse), and moving, which of course involved me keeping my inside elbow next to my side, my inside hand wide, my shoulders looking in and my inside leg pushing at the girth area (correct positioning again). When he successfully went past, I patted him and told him what a good boy he was. It all came down to his position being bent correctly.
As Barbara likes to say, “Assume the position and everything else will come.”