This was our best lesson yet. Of course, I could say that about every lesson. It's amazing to be seeing tangible, real progress from week to week. This last week I have focused on letting go of the tension in my arms and using my core instead. I no longer ache in my arms and Tessa is moving forward more freely and willingly.
The things we focused on today were making sure I didn't let my reins get too long. Since I have a small Arab mare, she has a very flexible neck and I have a bad habit of letting the reins slip away. I also have busy hands. It's funny because I've been told that before, but today I finally figured out WHY my hands were busy. Which for me, makes all the difference when you're trying to solve it. My hands are busy because I think I'm releasing. Except my taking of the reins and releasing is more like jiggling non stop. Trainer #2 ...let's start calling her L, shall we? That's a little more personal than Trainer #2. So, L came over and showed me how to take hold of the rein and when she tips her nose in, it will automatically release the pressure. Duh. I knew this in principle. She then started poking my thigh rapidly.
"Is this annoying?" she asked.
"Yes" I said, wanting to move my thigh away from her.
"What do you want to do?" she asked, still poking me in the thigh.
"Move my leg away from you and then maybe kick you so you don't do it again."
"Now how about this?" She changed the pressure from poking to a single, long squeeze. "Is this annoying?"
Ding!Ding! Lightbulb! Pony has been tossing her head around looking for the answer because my jiggling hands were offering her no release. I switched to a holding rein where once she tipped her nose in it automatically released and voila! Round pony for more than two strides!
I continue to work on controlling the shoulders, as sometimes she bulges a shoulder and just heads a different direction from where I want to go. Mostly she does this when I'm not riding every stride though, so it's really just a not so subtle reminder to pay attention.
The other thing we worked on at the end is rhythm. This is amazing to me. We worked on rhythm! This means that we have come so far out of the fear that we are working on actual training/riding issues!!!! This is huge!!! So we worked on maintaining a forward marching rhythm in the walk and then a forward rhythm in the trot. At one point, L even said she was really lifting herself and said that she looked lovely and was a super cute mover! Yeah for compliments!!!
Pony offered to canter a few times when working on forward and L had me go ahead and let her canter and then keep her cantering before I brought her back down. We have not been cantering so we kind of fell apart, but L pointed out the main thing is to make sure that coming down to a trot is always my idea. So if she drops into a trot earlier, we MUST go back to canter, even if it's only for one stride. Then it needs to be my idea to come back down to trot.
All in all, I feel like I have made lots of progress. It's been barely over a month and I went from not riding because I was so afraid, being physically ill before each lesson because I was so nervous and making the decision the put my horse on the market to riding 5 days a week and starting to work on rhythm in the trot!!