Then we added spirals and our canter/trot/canter exercise in, with the option of spiralling in or out and using the x's if I felt like the canter was "good".
The other catch? It was all done with no stirrups, which should have taken our modified circle of death exercise to an entirely more punishing level. Somewhat unsurprisingly, (since I have a love/hate relationship with my stirrups) everything felt easier. Much easier to sit without tension, much easier to influence the pony with my body, much easier to coordinate my aids. I could hang my leg softly under me, which resulted in my hips and lower back being way looser (and no back pain- oh, what a treat that is!) Midge responded by going really, really nicely, so I think we can lay much of the blame for her bracing and rushing on me. Poor pony.
There is much for me to think about from yesterday's lesson, there were so many light bulb moments! My comfort zone has always been to ride either without my stirrups, or with them crazy long. I've thought that was just because I grew up that way, having access to a pony but no saddle for many years. Weird habits and all that. Maybe, it's actually easier because my leg is stretched down and relaxed and then the my body naturally lines up into that place where it's easy to follow the horse's motion? I'm definitely going to need to think on this a little more.
Moving forward, after warming up in a light seat off her back, I'm to do all my flat work in this saddle without stirrups. EC is really liking how I sit and ride without, it's easier on my back, and most importantly, Midge seems to enjoy it. Also, I might consider investing in a dressage saddle. (Gulp!) My current saddle is great for jumping, not so much for the increasingly difficult flat work we're working towards.
|The kind of tension we've lately been struggling with for the first 10 minutes or so. No stirrups = almost instant relaxation - wish I had a pic!|