Saturday I took a lesson on Grace and it was my first lesson in weeks on her. I was all disorganized and I could tell the trainer was being patient because she'd done all this work with Grace the last couple of weeks and didn't want me let Grace take advantage of me. They're trying to finish her and even think she's ready for the APHA show in Fallon, NV. That was a surprise because I didn't think they thought she was competive for APHA but she's been doing really well. Her jog is so much lighter then before when she was still pretty heavy in front. Finally Beth the assistant trainer recommended that I close my eyes and try to feel when she had the jog right. All of a sudden I was so much more aware of my balance and my body as well as hers. I could feel her the second BEFORE she started to speed up and was able to catch it.
We worked on turning my toes out to use my spurs and where her buttons are for shoulders, ribs and hips. This all seems to basic but its just slightly different then when riding english with no spurs which is what I've always done. By the end I could get a pivot, sidepass and disengage her hips on cue. Yay! My biggest problem is that I need to learn to ride without my hands now. I'm so used to steering with them to some degree and you don't have that luxury with a WP horse. Your reins are too long to use them for anything but to tell the horse some leg cue is coming.
Closing my eyes allowed me to turn inward and focus on where my body was and how little shifts changed what Grace was doing. It was a very good lesson, and I finally had her staying on the rail relaxed at a real jog. I asked the trainer if she thought I could get away with riding at the show with my eyes closed. :) Wouldn't that be fun? LOL.
I took that lesson and tried it on Tax the next day. It's a little scarier riding the big, fast guy with my eyes closed but as Beth pointed out you can always just open them. So, we practiced our posting trot and transitions without me looking. I finally felt like I nailed a couple of trot to walk transitions without him pulling on me. Yay again! We also walked and troted some ground poles with my eyes shut so I could just try to be consistent instead of anticipating where the poles are. Went much better than I expected.
Yep, it was a good weekend...