I’ve upped my lessons to 3x per week for a few weeks b/c I’m working on something very specific – actually a few things. They are all related and in no particular order they are: 1) using my hip angle; 2) making PJ go and move off my leg; 3) contact with the outside rein.
I’ve had 3 lessons now on this new schedule (today, Sunday, and Friday). At the first lesson we worked on me having a steady outside rein. To achieve this, I held the bucking strap and went round and round a 20-meter circle and then spiraling in and spiraling out. We did this at sitting trot to help me push him with my seat. I was dying by the end because by holding the bucking strap, it put my body in a new position. Needless to say, I was sore the next day and I’m rarely sore after riding – gym yes, barn no.
The second lesson, I played around with holding the bucking strap and not holding it but still not dropping the outside rein. Again we worked on sitting trot and I had to drive, drive, drive him. I’ve always know I have either stiff hip joints or I don’t use them well; I watch myself and it always looks like I’m posting too high or I’m not tight in my position. But I never knew how to position myself correctly to use my hips to push him or half-halt him. Until this lesson. For a couple of strides I got it. It was like night and day. I can only describe it as my legs from my hip joints felt straighter and longer. At the end of the lesson, I took PJ for a hack and practiced at a posting trot for a few strides and actually got it – for 8 strides to be exact. I tried so hard to solidify the feeling in my mind. I crashed when I got home I was so tired from riding this different way.
Today I started out with that feeling and got it for a little bit but with all of the driving I tired quickly. On the plus side, I was able to drive PJ for a longer period before we both needed a break. Barbara assures me that if I keep pushing him and not letting him slow down when he wants to that he will get stronger and he will come into some semblance of self-carriage (and I won’t have to work so hard).
I plan on trotting and cantering him out in a field tomorrow to encourage him to go forward and to get him stronger (wherever I decide to ride outside there’s a hill). Thursday he’ll get off. Friday is another lesson, and then Saturday, my friend Betsy with her eventing mare is planning on taking PJ and I on a trail ride to a big field behind a neighbor’s house where we can really go for a gallop. PJ has never been there before so it may get interesting and I may just end up going for a nice trot. Then Sunday is another lesson, off Monday; lesson Tuesday, repeat. I’m thinking at least one day a week out in a field will be good for him. I’m still planning on working with the clicker on nonlesson days. Hopefully, it will all come together…soon… so I don’t come home after every lesson dripping of sweat and wanting a nap, or better yet, a nice massage!