Barbara made a comment at my last lesson that took some time for me to process. She said that by using my heels to get PJ to go I was tensing my leg, which was actually a cue to not go. To goal is to be loose in my joints and the more bounce I have the more trot he should give me; becoming stiff in my joints is the definition of a half-halt.
So today, my goal was to keep my heels down no matter what. I had thought it would be easier than it was because I had deluded myself that when I used my heels it was totally on purpose. Nope – it had become a habit.
I started out on a loose rein going around the ring. I played around with asking him to go forward by thumping my calves (and not heels) and then half-halting with my seat. At first doing a transition to walk (trying to get him to sit behind) and then doing transitions within the trot. I worked him both directions.
After a short walk break, I picked up contact and did the same exact thing. To the right I actually felt like he went forward pretty nicely. To the left, at least I had power steering. It just didn’t feel as forward. I don’t think we’re ready to try any of this at the canter yet.
My right heel kept wanting to be used, and I had to keep it in the forefront of my mind to stop myself. I had a lot more trouble putting my left calf on than my right and I don’t know if its due to a crookedness in me (most likely) or PJ (probably a contributor – the way he’s bent). It feels like I’ve taken many steps backwards in our training but it also feels like I’m on the right track.