Wow! What a lesson! I got to start by riding Karin's Grand Prix horse. In the levels of dressage, Grand Prix is the highest level of training and is the level performed at the olympics! Olympic level horses might have scores in the upper 80's to low 90's for the Grand Prix level of training. Karin's horse, Flanny, has scored a 58% at Grand Prix. So, he knows all of the movements and is a VERY well trained horse! I had a blast on him. It was so cool to really feel him pick up when I asked him to and to give more power when I asked for it with my seat. One interesting thing about him is that he is very patient, but can be a tattle tale. Karin had us doing leg yields and I could get them to the left, but to the right I got a haunches in, then a half pass, and then the leg yield. So, he was really tattling on me and showing both Karin and I that maybe Boomer's problem with the leg yield to the right isn't him. Karin also introduced the half halt on Flanny. Honestly I didn't really get it. I mean, I could stop my seat for a stride, then push him forward the next stride, but it just didn't feel connected for me. It was more like tempo changes, rather than recycling energy.
Just as I got on Boomer the snow started sliding off of the roof and pretty well kept up for the next half hour. He actually handled it pretty well. I stayed with him and got him stopped within a few strides and Karin said I did well to hold him together. I was glad to have her there for confidence as I probably would have quit early if I wasn't in a lesson. Once Boomer was on contact and feeling it, when he would spook, he would come right back down and seek the contact on his own.
One major thing I figured out on Flanny and transfered to Boomer was that I am giving the release too much and at the wrong time. With Flanny, I had him on the bit and bent him inside a little and he would drop right down, I gave on instinct, and he pulled forward and out. I realized that I gave too much. I have a tendency to open my hands and push my shoulders forward to give and I get taken advantage of by both a schoolmaster and a greenie. So, I worked really hard on keeping my fingers closed at all times and giving only with my elbows. This really helped with my reaction time. With Boomer, I had been giving this huge release as his head went down, but I couldn't be fast enough to get the contact back if when he popped back up. So, With keeping my hands closed and giving with my elbows, I could give as he went down but keep him 'captured' and not allow him to pop back up. It actually made a difference.
Next week I am going to ride Boomer in One of Karin's dressage saddles. I was really amazed at the instant difference in my position. I sat up so much straighter with no effort at all. My legs were longer and my shoulders stayed back. I could really feel the stretch in my hip flexors from being at a much more open angle. I tried to recreate the posture once I was back on Boomer but it was hard to ride him and fight the saddle at the same time so I am excited to see if I can use my seat/core/energy better on Boomer in a saddle with a less forward seat.