The more I think about it - the more it makes sense.
I have thought a LOT about what Nancy Tapley (the wonderful dressage judge who took the time to me with me after Lane's End) told me over the past several days and really have been trying to put it into practice. The more Chester is in front of my leg, the less I have to do as a rider which means my hands will be more steady which means I won't be messing with his face as much which means he will be much more happy and willing. Not that he isn't happy & willing now, but you get the point.
And - it goes back to what the Boss has been telling me for the past 6 weeks "You need MORE from him. When you think it is enough - ask for a little more and then you will have it". Things that I have been working on.
1 - understanding the difference between a true contact and a fake contact. ie - riding properly from back to front (in front of your leg) and not from front to back (hanging on your hand). I still don't fully understand how to connect everything but, I am getting better.
2 - I am getting better because I am really starting to feel the difference when Chester is properly using himself vs not. There are these moments of greatness where for 10 or 15 steps it feels like I am sitting on a hot air balloon and everything just WORKS.
3 - My hand position - I constantly tell myself to hold my hands up and out - away from my body and to keep the straight line from bit t- hand to elbow - sounds basic huh? Well - it was the biggest thing I got dinged on after Chester's tantrum at Lane's End and is the reason our scores were all over the place. You can bet your ass that will never happen to me again.
4 - Asking & Giving...ugh - this is what I am having the most trouble with at the moment. I either a:forget to give once I have asked and he answered b: give WAY too much and I lose the feel in the corner of his mouth or c: don't have him moving forward enough when I ask for something at which point he says 'up yours'...but, I will get it.
5 - Opening up my knee and not having a death grip. The more I stay off his back - the easier it will be for me to get him moving forward openly and freely through his shoulder. I have started doing about 10 minutes of no stirrup work per ride and that is helping me a TON with my balance and position.
I am just working on riding him BETTER and with more confidence. We tried to do a little gallop last night (in my head thinking we have to go faster) but the ground is sooooo harrddddd right now that he was making that hollow sound when we were galloping so I said forget it. It hasn't rained in a couple weeks and you can really tell. It's not worth it for me to push it on hard ground when he is still recuperating.
Tonight - we work on the dressage movements for our test for Canterdown (on August 15) and then I'll ride it in the arena to get the accuracy down.
Tomorrow - LESSON WITH THE BOSS!!! and then there is a BIG Pig Roast/BBQ/BAND/PARTY at the barn. Should be a lot of FUN! Boss and Kelly are going to come (hopefully Papa Cracker too) and Aaron....looking forward to that.