Right now, forward is always the answer for us. This was driven home yet again last night when after ten minutes of riding, my arms started to feel tired. I mentioned this to Linda, who quickly reminded me that we needed more forward. Forward into contact. Forward into bend. Forward, forward, forward!
The pony was itching for a fight last night. She was cranky, fussy, heavy, sluggish, distracted. After about twenty minutes of fighting her, Linda suggested spurs. Leila has been using spurs and said that the princess is much less fussy about them then she is about the whip. This turned out to be true....mostly.
At first I was very hesitant with my leg. I didn't want to accidentally jab her with the spurs and when I touched her lightly she pinned her ears. But, she went forward. Really forward. And from forward came all sorts of more lovely things like straightness (occasionally...let's not get carried away by visions of us trotting beautiful straight lines...it was more like we got one stride of straight for every ten strides of crooked) and lightness. I worked on lightening up in my shoulders and upper arms so that I created a safe, happy place for her to be in contact.
Our canter departs to the left were amazing. The spurs meant I could just lightly touch her and she jumped right into them. Dreamy! Then we turned to the right.
And lost it. I said a little thank you prayer for having put on her martingale, because I would have had a broken nose otherwise. I asked and she flung her head backwards at me, pinned her ears and kicked out. Again and again and again. She'd take one step of canter and then fall into the bone jarring on the forehand trot. Over and over. We'd regroup and try again. Ask lighter. Sit lighter. Push her forward. Finally, we got three or four strides of canter and called it good. It's something I'm doing and we both know it. She doesn't have this problem with Leila, so it's definitely me and it was awful last night.
The plan is for me to try to sit as light as possible, don't over cue, don't grip with the thighs etc. Linda suggested I use a jump saddle next time and try cantering to the right in two point. I didn't tell her that I wasn't sure if I could even *do* two point anymore. I'm pretty sure she'd just tell me that's my problem and I should deal with it.
So, I'm going to pull out the old jumping books for reminders on good two point position and borrow the terribly uncomfortable but terribly effective Pessoa jump saddle again and I'm going to practice this week. My two goals are : Forward forward forward forward (always, right? I should just stick a post it note to my pony that says "Are you going forward?" Maybe like one of those WWJD bracelets? I could make a bracelet that says AYGF? Then I could sell these at horse shows. I'll bet I'm not the only rider who needs to remember that the way out of naughty pony land is forward!) and goal number two is to ride in two point a lot with a super light seat.
Since it doesn't happen going to the left, I need to figure out what my body is doing when I go to the right. So I'm also thinking some videotaping is in order this week. It's a little bit exciting for me to have a problem to solve like this because I love me some problem solving. I'll just think of this as the CSI of horse problems....minus the dead bodies of course.