Because I have the World’s Best Boyfriend, I got some riding lessons for my birthday. (Which is vastly better than the shoes Cally got herself for my birthday). Today, in the soupy-humid afternoon, was the first of our birthday lessons with Carol. I was rather vague on what I wanted to work on, just that I didn’t want to push too hard due to the heat and not wanting to kill either myself or the horse.
We started off doing a good bit of work on transitions, and me allowing her to go forward into the next gait from both my hands and my body. That meant really letting my hips swing along with the motion, especially at the trot. This produced very good results, by which I mean a gait that was presumably gorgeous from the ground, and felt great from on top of her, but was almost more than I knew what to do with. Like her canter strides can be when she gets rolling, when you let her move, she has an enormous trot!
Once she was moving nicely at the trot both ways (mostly hindered by the monkey on her back), we had a nice walk break where I chatted about some of my observations as warmup steward at Ride For Life, including the fact that I thought First Level looked really feasible for us. Carol agreed, so I think I want to aim for being ready to do that (at schooling shows, not rec!) next summer. Which means we’re at least looking at white breeches, if not full seats, in the not so distant future. Maybe those will help me figure out what to do with that trot?
After we caught our breaths and set some goals, it was on to canter transitions. Those have progressively been getting better, especially in the last week since our last lesson when the revelation about leg yielding a step into the transition occurred. Today we worked on me not collapsing my body into the transition, to the point where it felt like I was leaning way backwards (apparently only to the point of straightness, instead of Hunter Hunch). We actually ended up with some very nice transitions, where I could really feel her jumping up into the canter, which also means she wasn’t flinging her head up into the air during the transitions, which meant we’re fixing two birds with one stone there!
But Carol had me sitting the last few steps of the trot up into the canter, which she noticed Cally knew was a lead-up to asking for the transition. So after our nice canter and another walk break, we did some work on sitting trot. It’s so much harder than I remember it being when I was having to do it more for Eq classes, mostly because in dressage, you don’t get to slow the trot down. Having to sit and swing my hips along with her big trot is really difficult, and at more than one point, I felt like I could have used a seatbelt. Or at least a neck strap! Maybe it is time for those fullseats? We got a bit of nice sitting trot, though, and did that into a few really nice moments of leg yield, which we ended on. Both of us were pretty drenched with sweat; she got a nice vetrolin rinse, and I eventually got a nice waffle cone from Jimmie Cone.