Ri and I have made good progress, I think. I'm pretty pleased with this video that Bob took yesterday. If last winter was a Cold War between Ri and I, then talks have resumed!
My trainer is riding Ri once a week, and I'm taking one lesson a week. I have some takeaways from a tough year, and among our back to basics boot camp items are:
- Legs that do less. I'm concentrating on relaxing my leg, letting my weight drop into my stirrup without gripping (this last point is hard). Squeezing the calf/knee (without releasing) is a longstanding bad habit. My relaxed knee drops I can sit close to Ri rather than pinching myself out of the saddle. The goal is a softer, more passive leg that bumps lightly.
- Seat and core. Confession -- I almost never thought of my seat and core when I rode. It's easier with a relaxed leg. I try to pretend I only have my seat/core/upper body to communicate. Ri totally responds to this. Amazing.
- Contact. Obviously this is quite a big subject. But for me, short reins are the beginning of the conversation. I have been worrying that short reins constrain Ri, and I instinctively let him draw the reins out of my hands. IN fact the LONGER reins have been the issue. Short reins help me keep my body more upright, my seat more agile, my hands/arms in the classic "serving tray" position. I can see I need to steady my hands more (video). Nevertheless, Riley gets a shorter rein -- he likes it.
Baby steps, always.