For realz. That was us on in our dressage lesson on Sunday.
We had our second dressage lesson on Sunday. I was pleased to report to JD that we'd been working hard on our homework (leg yields and squares, along with longeing in side reins and not falling in to the right) and that I felt like we'd really made some progress. I started off showing her our leg yields (excellent to both sides at the walk) and squares (pretty damn good when I remembered not to over-ask) and we quickly moved on to the trot. I'd also been practicing a bit of a leg yield into the trot transition, and we are getting these amazing upwards transitions. In fact, he's stepping under himself so much that he's throwing me out of the saddle. So the transition is great, but I can't stay with it so I make us fall apart. Fail.
We worked in trot almost the whole time. He was about a million times better than the previous lesson, and there were two major take-aways from this ride.
First of all, I have got to RELAX MY ARMS. This basically means having noodle-arms from the shoulder on down. I am really bad about holding my elbows away from my sides and stiffening in my shoulders, because that's how I type on the keyboard all day. Whenever Echo would brace against me (usually on the left rein), I'd immediately relax my arms and he'd go soft. Well, really what was going on is that I was tensing my arm, he'd brace, then I'd remember to let go and he would too. Poor guy was trying so hard to figure it out, and I wasn't where he needed me to be. Something I have got to work on fixing, ASAFP.
Secondly, in my very first lesson on Echo with Adopted Horse Mom, she told me that I was riding the bend "backward," especially to the right. We didn't have a chance to really break down what that meant, but JD explained it in a way that really made sense. What it comes down to is that when we go to the right, my shoulders and hips move as if we're doing a left bend. My right hip moves toward his left ear, and my shoulders are angled to the outside as well. What really needs to happen is that I need to turn my body to the right, starting with the shoulders. My left shoulder needs to lead slightly, my right needs to come back. My hips will follow my shoulders, and you know what? Damned if Echo didn't move his ENTIRE BODY in line with mine when I did that. We still had a smidge of falling in, but for the most part it was magically fixed. It's amazing how nicely your horse goes when you ride him right, you know?
Here's the video proof. It was at the end of our ride, so he was tired and really wanted to curl up and stop by the mirrors, but it had some good moments here and there.
So my homework for the next week: turn shoulders and hips (in that order), and keep arms noodly and hands down. I may try to get FuzzyPony to longe me on Taran (he's steady on the longe) with no stirrups so I can work on getting my weight to the right... well, really, getting my weight in the center of the horse. It seems so simple, but it's so hard to keep track of all the body parts at the same time! That's the story of learning to ride, though.
In other news, I may have signed us up to go to a schooling dressage show on the 15th. That's right... Echo's first show! SO excited!!!