It certainly helped that I got to have a warm up lesson with Chemaine Hurtado on Friday. Riding with her the evening before helped remind me that I am a serious student and that I have the necessary skills to be riding with a clinician.
I was the first rider of the day which was nice because I did my warm up by myself. Speedy was very relaxed and ready to get to work by the time Christian and the auditors were in place.
As before, Christian first asked me to just ride a 20 meter circle in front of him so that he could assess my riding. I was comfortable doing that. I rode Speedy around doing my best to get comfortable and keep Speedy happy. Within a minute, Christian started giving me directions: shorten your reins, sit to the inside, soften the inside rein, make the circle smaller, use your outside leg, push him forward with the inside leg, and so on.
And while he kept insisting that I smile, smiling relaxes your body which helps your horse to relax, my stern look was actually a face of pure concentration. I wanted to make every moment of the lesson count. His command to smile was received as a poke, but I quickly remembered my experience with the Affective Filter the last time I had ridden with him and quickly found a way to diffuse the tension that wanted to build.
To the auditors, Christian explained that a smile needs to last for ten seconds to have an effect on our relaxation. While sporting a big smile on my face, I cheekily started to count down from ten to one just loud enough for him to hear me. That of course came across as quite sassy, and even I found myself genuinely smiling at my joke. Later, during a particularly difficult moment, I looked his way and plastered a big smile on my face. He seemed a bit taken aback at first, but then laughed good-naturedly with me.
Christian helped me put Speedy together in a way that I've never been able to do before. My pony was round, supple, and truly using his hind end. It was a thrilling ride. The best part for me was when Christian started asking for a variety of exercises, and I was able to do them.
The first was a leg yield. In January, the leg yield created a moment of terrible embarrassment. This time, I was able to "correctly" leg yield at the trot and canter. The last time I worked with Christian, I struggled with the counter canter. This time, Speedy and I were able to do nice canter loops. We also did some beginning lengthenings.
I've mentioned here a time or two that I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I don't ride a warmblood, and I don't have a lifetime of riding lessons under my belt. In fact, I only started riding in an English saddle just a few short years ago. So it was particularly gratifying to hear the many positive comments made by the auditors. Most had seen me ride in January so they had a good basis for comparison. Overall, the ladies felt that I had improved tremendously in the six months since my last ride with Christian. Hearing that was welcome validation.
I am definitely looking forward to more rides with Christian Schacht!