Did you ever have one of those days (or weeks, or months) where you just can't get something right? Your coach gives you the correction and yet the more you do what she tells you, the worse things get?
Here's a tip from me: if doing what your coach tells you makes the problem worse, consider checking whether what she means is actually what you think she means.
Long story short, I could have saved myself and Gus (and Debbie too!) a lot of aggravation if I realized that while circling to the right her instructions to lead with my right shoulder actually meant "keep your right shoulder ahead (i.e. leading) of your left shoulder," and not "put your right shoulder back." Doh! Hopefully realizing this will now prevent the sideways movement I get lately with every 15 metre circle attempt. I hope so anyway, since canter half pass is not required at First Level!
Body awareness and position is a big struggle for me, as it is for a lot of rusty stirrup riders. We've been working a lot on the lunge line for the past couple of weeks, riding without using my hands in order to help improve my balance, build core strength, and develop a more independent seat. And it's working (or at least it was until today's brain fart). I'm definitely feeling more secure in my position and more confident in the saddle, which translates to a happier horse who is much steadier in the contact.
Perhaps not surprisingly, mounted exercises to improve balance and strength is the topic of my next training article in Horse Sport magazine. Debbie provided the expert advice and my friend Holly kindly served as both guinea pig and model, performing the exercises on Gus and her own horse so I could photograph them. Keep an eye out in the upcoming issue and let me know what you think.
About the author
I'm a middle-aged, overweight, rusty re-rider who refuses to let any of that get in the way of my passion for dressage.