We started out the lesson by asking Austin to let go through his entire body; he is one stiff and heavy boy. We suspect that Austin was allowed to go in a very fake frame in his former home. He rounds his neck very nicely, but there is no connection to his hind end. But since he looks so pretty, his former rider(s) probably thought that a rounded neck was good enough.
JL isn't fooled by a fake frame and can spot it a million miles away. So even though she's not a dressage instructor, she is very good at helping riders to get their horses moving correctly from their hind ends.
I had to do several pulley halts to get Austin off my hands, and I followed that up with some rocking of the rein. Little by little he started to soften so my rocking became closer and closer to finger pulses. Once he was trotting around on his hind end without having me hold up his head, we changed direction.
We repeated the suppling exercises at the canter, and JL worked on my leg position a bit more. My leg is either a bit too far behind, or it slips slightly forward. I am definitely having trouble finding that sweet spot, but I am definitely getting close.
My right foot and ankle are also complete rebels - they refuse to stay in the correct position. Granted, the foot has had some injuries, but every time I look down, all of my weight is to the inside with no weight to the outside of my foot. To help me fix the problem, JL raised that stirrup quite a bit so that I am forced to put weight in the stirrup. Let me just say ... OUCH!
After all of the suppling and torturing, I finally got to have a little fun, and I know Austin enjoyed himself too. JL put two poles down and let us go. When we approached the poles the first time, I let Austin just go for it and so he said, OXER! He quite enthusiastically launched over the whole thing and gave a little buck of delight as he cantered off. I of course was grinning from ear to ear right along with him.
The next attempt sent the poles scattering as I interfered too much. By the third go round, I started hearing JL in my head. I've watched enough lessons to know what I should be doing even though I've never done it myself. I made the turn with Austin solidly on my outside aids, and then I rode straight to to the poles chanting, wait ... wait ... wait... He trotted correctly over the poles as I continued to remind him to wait ... wait ... wait ...
He did a very good job once I started to ride him straight for the poles while remembering to keep him straight and rhythmic after the poles as well. We only trotted over them a few times as he had already worked quite hard. In fact, he was bit short behind the next day so I simply hacked him around on the buckle so that he could stretch out his sore muscles.
We have another lesson on Monday. While I know that I am a total dork about being happy to trot poles, it really was fun to try something new. I hope there are more poles in our future. Maybe they'll even be off the ground!