I'm not really sure that getting yourself a dressage lesson is really a present but it'll have to do!
I got on Annie about 15 minutes early, I wanted to make sure that her back was warmed up and she was done snorting! She only looked at a few things but quickly ignored them. While we talked about what I'd been working on and having problems with Nancy noted what a lovely freewalk that Annie had, she was reaching down almost to the ground for the bit. Yayyy!!!!
We talked a good deal about her being balky and bucking when I asked her to go forward. Nancy has a very specific instruction style that is very rider position focused, down to each heel being exactly the same and the arms held at a specific angle. It was her belief that when Annie gets balky I need to make sure that my body isn't telling her to stay that way by being clampy and crooked. She said that Annie is naturally a centered horse, very straight, so when she gets off balance she gets irritated.
She noticed that when my shoulders get ahead that is when Annie tries to stop. She asked me to stay very relaxed and loose with my legs and aids and to gently "twhap" my legs against her sides when she stopped going forward enough instead of clamping down or kicking.
Annie doesn't like to be through on her right side so one of the body exercises was to imagine that I was sitting on a swivel bar stool when I needed to bend her. It took me several tries to figure out what the heck that meant!!!! but when I did it I noticed a big difference in how I could control her right side around a corner.
Right lead canter was difficult to get, and I must confess that I am STILL not demanding or even asking for her to canter, I'm sort of quietly hoping that she does it. However, Nancy felt that her right lead was loads better then the last time she'd seen her go.
Left lead was much easier and once we got rolling Annie remembered how much she loved to canter. In the canter Nancy continued to ask me to stay loose and drappy with my legs, lightly bumping them against her sides to ask her to stand up on the left instead of clamping down. I was able to really and truly sit on her at the canter and I felt like I was able to dictate what I wanted her to do with her parts.
Nancy said that she thought my dressage saddle was perfect for me, which is great news! I bought it brand new for less then $300 off of Ebay, it sells here at This tack store for over $1,000! Everybody must have been asleep when the auction ended! I've grown to not hate the deep seat and exposed blocks as well!
We finished up the ride with some voluntary sitting trot work. I came down from the canter and for some reason I felt like sitting so I got a good lesson in all the things my body ISN'T supposed to do in the sitting trot. Keeping most of the lower body almost like jello to absorb the motion while staying upright with my torso and yielding yet firm with my abs. Urghh. I was able to sit Annie's full working trot which was really quite neat, and it wasn't so bad that she didn't feel like doing some stretchy trot work while I was sitting.
Nancy ended the lesson by saying what a lovely mover Annie is, she looks kind of plain standing still but when she's going right she really does look fancy.
Annie ended up wearing her cooler home as she was sweaty again over her shoulders. I think I've made up my mind to clip her a little bit more, I think she'd be more willing to work if she didn't get so sweaty.