I'm sure you've detected a bit of a depressed tone in my more recent blog posts regarding my horse and I. I have been in a slump, for sure. Ben - well, he's just being a horse, a 4 yr old one at that. He's testing what and where he can, and I haven't been a good enough rider to be a leader in the saddle.
So what can I do - I can moan and complain. Or I can try to fix it. And since I have goals with this horse, I'm electing the "fix it" option.
I've started reading and doing some RiderPilates (www.riderpilates.com). Already, after just a couple tries, I am getting the hang of it, and can say that it has already benefited me in the saddle.
Additionally, I also started reading Janet Foy's book "Dressage for the Less than Perfect Horse." It's been fantastic, and has already given me some little tidbits on what to do with a sluggish horse who wants to fall behind the aids.
And finally, I bought that Kent and Masters saddle. I've been riding now in my friend's for a week, and I can honestly say it has been much easier on my body.
Tonight I was able to take both what I've learned in RiderPilates (doing a pre-ride warm up, and also a breathing technique in the saddle...and focus), as well as some pointers from Janet's book...and lo and behold, I had a great ride.
I can't discount what my trainer also said. Her little voice was nagging in my head...and it was also mixed with Janet's voice...turns out they say the same things, LOL. During my last lesson my trainer told me I was giving Ben too much time between transitions, especially if/when he fell out of work - like dropping tempo at the trot, or dropping out of canter. The problem has been, for me, anyway, that i feel like i need some time to reorganize during these unplanned events. So i'm essentially giving him a break and telling him it is OKAY to stop. Damn. Janet's book said the same thing. So today I worked very hard on keeping him "ON". If we were cantering...we were cantering. If he fell out of it, and he did, several times, he was put right back in no matter how ugly it was.
And it worked, but I worked for it. Its not as if I was suddenly magikal and could just sit there and have this lovely horse flowing underneath me. Not so much. I earned every friggen stride - even the bad ones. He was pulling on me, rushing, slowing down bulging this way and that, and it was up to me to keep him on the task. It got better a few minutes into it- its almost as if he just stopped trying all the BS and got to work. Mr. Asleep was awake and we got not only some great canter but also some lovely trot work. I had a connection, and an outside rein. It was lovely.
Take that, you naughty Depression!