Friday, August 12, 2011

Heels down, shoulders back

Today's lesson was late this afternoon, at a different time than usual, and we ended up riding outside in the bigger arena instead of in the (smaller) indoor arena.  It's been a couple weeks since we've ridden outside, and there's more space, and Panama was probably a bit antsy knowing that his dinner was being delayed.  In any case, he was being a bit naughty — wanting to trot quickly or starting to canter when he wasn't being asked, not responding to half-halts, etc.  Toward the end of the lesson, my trainer actually got on him for a few minutes to get him straightened out.  After that, he was a little better for me, and we finished up with a decent trot and canter in each direction that didn't involve him trying to speed up.

Part of the difference when I got back on was a suggestion my trainer made — I was riding in my two-point, and she said to push against his neck a little with my hands.  It was making him slow down a little for her, because he was thinking about this new thing she was doing, and so she suggested I try it too to see if it would work for me.

I don't know if it worked or if he was getting over the new sensation, and I wasn't really pushing on his neck so much as pushing against the idea of it (I wasn't keen on putting any weight on his neck, in case he put his head down again like he did last week).  What it definitely did do, though, was to make me put my shoulders back and sit up a little taller in my two-point.  That had nearly the same effect of making him slow down, because it gave me a little better control and redistributed my weight so both of us were better balanced.

The other thing we were working on was correcting the position of my lower legs.  I tend to have a problem with getting my heels down — at best they are usually level.  Today my trainer was pestering me about not just putting my heels down, but pushing them forward — apparently part of my problem is that I'm letting my lower leg come too far back.  That seemed to help, though it did make posting harder — I'll need to practice to get used to using the muscles differently (or maybe it's different muscles altogether; I don't know).

Anyway, it was an exhausting and somewhat frustrating lesson, but at the same time I felt like I made good progress on some issues with my position that have been plaguing me for a while — I just had to work for it (and will have to continue to work at it, until it becomes more second nature for me).

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