For Monday's lesson, I worked on my position, mostly on gripping with my calves to give my body more support. I rode Chester on a trot circle as I tried this. It's amazing how much better and easier posting becomes when I actually support myself with my calves rather than the stirrup irons. I also focused on landing lightly in the saddle when I post the trot and not going up so high,which takes a lot of thigh muscles and a solid support from my calves gripping Chester's sides.
Next, I worked more on getting Chester on the bit. Luckily, Chester is fairly easy to get on the bit, yet it still takes a lot of work and coordination to get things right. If I don't add enough leg, he would go into a slow trot. Too much and he almost canters. Not holding the outside rein would make Chester's head go to the inside. After a few minutes, I was able to get him to round up for a little at a time. Once I began squeezing the inside rein until he lowers his head, rather than using short bursts, I discovered that getting him to round up became a little bit easier. He also held it for longer once he noticed that I would stop asking when he rounded up. It's such a nice and rewarding experience to have a horse that is round and connected.
I did this exercise on a circle in both directions, then tried it on straight. I wasn't able to get him round as well on the straight; I need to work on that and remember that rounding him is the same on the straight or on a circle. To help, I probably need to hold the outside rein more so he doesn't turn to the inside. Nevertheless, I am still learning and connecting a horse perfectly takes years of practice. I'm going to look in my dressage book to see if I can get better understanding of the subject.
Next did some cantering, also on a circle to begin. I am improving at relaxing into the canter and letting myself flow with the motion, one of the goals I had for myself, though it still needs a bit more work. As long as I remember to sit up, put my shoulders back, and grip with my calves, my position is better. There's a reason why we are all told that.
After a short walk break, I cantered again, this time working on half-halt for a more controlled canter. I was able to have more influence on what speed Chester cantered, rather than riding the pace he chose, thus become a more active of a rider. I was even able to control his left lead canter, which is faster than his right lead canter, ending on that good note.
Meghan and I also discussed some goals for the next six months, coming with these ones together:
-Swing my hips with the motion of the canter and have better control of the canter
This one Meghan thinks it won't take too long to achieve. I already almost there.
-Be more comfortable riding in groups
Another easily attainable one seeing as I will take group lessons soon.
-Reach Pony Club D-3 level
At this level I can actually canter in Pony Club and thus be able to participate more
-Do more jumping and improve at that
-Get my first few shows under my belt, even if they are the small local flat classes.
-Possibly get me my own horse.
Meghan thinks that I'm getting to the point that I need my own horse pretty soon(next six months)
That is what I will be working these next six months. The first two are easily attainable and would likely be accomplished long before February, but the last four are more long term. What are you working toward these next six months?