Today I had another lesson on Stella, I was full of anxiety and doubts as soon as I scheduled it. I didn't want another struggle of a lesson where all I felt like I was accomplishing was ruining her for all future use over fences. I've been working hard at home on getting her in front of my leg, getting her forward, getting her to pick up her canter. Still, when I see fences my brain tends to go on a vacation.
My trainer and I had a talk about this ahead of time and we started out working on flatwork. How do you steer a horse? With your reins? With your legs? I use my hands way too much. I think it's because I consider Stella very green to more refined aids, and she doesn't turn very well at home. Or pretty much anywhere. And I think I use my legs.
Trainer had me hold my whip in my hands, about 8 inches apart. I wasn't able to give Stella any wide opening rein like I thought was necessary. Instead I had to use my hands for Direction and rely entirely on my legs and my seat aids for Steering.
Hardest thing ever to mentally wrap my head around.
When I get busy and frantic there go my hands.
Instead I had to think ahead of my turns and use my legs to not only control pace, but control my steering. I even had to hold the whip this way OVER THE FENCES. Surprisingly, I did not die.
We also worked on who was in control. Who was in control of the pace? Of the direction? Over the jump? Over the direction we took after the jump?
I also had to stay behind her. Do you want to be driving the horse from his neck or tail or do you want to be driving the horse from his tail?
I was finally able to take a step back and realize that everytime Stella wasn't forward enough, I crawled up her neck and swung my legs back and forth. Stella promptly stopped. Every Time. Stella isn't stupid. Apparently I am.
Staying behind Stella also helped me not jump ahead so much. Here I am sort of considering folding at the waist. Holding that whip between my hands.
Here I am thinking about keeping my lower leg in the same zipcode as my girth. Still holding that whip between my hands.
Finally, here's a video of one of our courses, as well as some nice canter work at the end.