Because of the canceled lesson on Saturday, today I was to take a lesson on Wesley instead. Which both Sarah and I thought would be a good situation anyways because I really needed (need) more help on allowing my body to make the lead change. As I tacked him up, reaching for the familiar snaffle bit I had been riding him in previously, Sarah instead had be put in a correctional curb bit and commented that we would be working one-handed. And so the fun shall begin.
I crawled aboard the tall and handsome Wesley and warmed him up walking him and torso twisting. Something felt a bit different in my body, but I couldnt pin point what. True to her intuitive self and sharp eye, it didnt take long until we were trotting and Sarah told me to find that tension in my body and release it. She commented "it could be your lower back..." and as soon as she said that, I knew thats where the tension was, and suddenly a light bulb went off as I remembered back to my previous rides recently on Milo. I had been holding tension in my lower back when riding one handed. Could this be how I have learned to ride one-handed, when I was on the drill team and balanced off of my hands?
It didnt take long as we worked in the lesson and Sarah commented more than once that I was balancing off of the reins and I had to find my seat and my legs. She reminded be that there doesnt need to be contact in a shank bit, and instead of relying on a half halt for instance, we need to find it in our bodies and ride more through leg and seat. She told me for a second time that I am "always riding and in complete control", I need to "let the horse make the mistake and then correct it or else they will never learn.". I even have that on recording from two lessons ago, but I really could feel what she was saying in my one handed riding. Sarah had us work at the lope the majority of the lesson, and of course, the lead changes.
Things just didnt feel like they were going so well in many ways. I couldnt seem to find it in my body to lift Wesley's back and engage his hind, and wanted to hang off of the bridle. If I wasnt hanging, then I was releasing too soon. As we worked down the center line and Sarah repeatedly told me with each pass to find straight, not let Wesley drop his shoulder out, dont let him fishtail, lift him into the bridle before nit-picking. And our lead changes werent that great. I was feeling a real lack of confidence wondering to myself how if I couldnt get a good lead change on this lead changing machine, how on earth could I do this on my own horse? I was starting to feel defeated and then Sarah made it much more clear.
Although she had been telling me to find the new bend with my body and then ask for the change, I just wasnt getting it. Then she finally told me to use my leg to do so. As we loped on the left lead down the center line to prepare for a change, I was to move him laterally just slightly from my right leg to get the bend, then change my hips for the change, opening up my new inside leg, shapping my legs' positions. Finally, the change felt clean and right. I rode him around a little longer and thought about how it happened. Straight, balanced, leg before seat. All in conjuction however. I discovered the difference wasnt just my realization of more leg and less hand, but that I just did it. I didnt over think every individual cue, I just let it happen. Sarah talked to me about what I was understanding but I just couldnt seem to make words of it. I just had to think about what happened.
Although I felt some defeat and lowered self esteem, Sarah encouraged me that things are coming along. Poor Sarah can't make me find it in my body, but she can help support me to discover it on my own. So how would this relate to Milo?