Can we say sunshine? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the sun was indeed shining today. Not only was it shining, it was 64 degrees when I rode. It was awesome! Don't worry, I'll be whining up a storm this summer when it's 95 and 100% humidity. I just need to move to San Diego.
Moving on from my weather soap opera - I spent today's ride once again working primarily in the trot because the ground is so wet. It's seriously squishy out there. Like my ride last Wed, I spent the majority of my time riding on a small figure-8. This exercise really helps me get Charlie supple and forward. When I go large around the arena, I tend to have him going too forward and he's running. Because we are constantly doing something - shoulder-in, leg yielding, changing direction - he stays focused and fully engaged in the exercise. And because I have to pay attention to where we're going, I keep my head up (and therefore my upper body) and and focus more on using my leg instead of my hand.
Today, I really tried to focus on keeping my elbows bent and keeping the contact with my elbow instead of my hand. I would say I was mildly successful. I had moments where I really felt like I had a breakthrough - I felt my hand soften and my elbow was what was maintaining the contact. It was a first for me - kind of sad given how long I've been riding. Oh well, better late than never! :) Maybe when I go to Southern Pines, I can get on one of C's horses to get a better idea of what this should really feel like. I think Charlie will greatly appreciate it if I can figure this out.
I spent the last 10 minutes working on the walk, just staying soft and following with my hand and consistently asking Charlie to move forward. My biggest downfall is I confuse dropping my hands with being soft. I can't tell you how hard it's been to break this habit. I have a fleece pad that's too big for my saddle so it sticks up in front and if my hands hit it, I know they're too low. Actually, they're too low and my reins are too long but that's another battle. I did some walk - halt transitions and he was really good about staying soft in the transitions; he even halted squarely about half the time. Yay!