As I knew he would, Christian set us to work on everything BUT the medium trot. Like he has done so many times before, he worked on ME for a large part of the lesson. He noticed that I was holding a fair amount of tension in my upper body, so he directed me to get loose. I did some shoulder rolls and a bobble-head shake to get rid of the tension. Christian reminded me to let my heels sink in the rising trot so that I wasn’t gripping anywhere with my legs. As I focused more on relaxing my body, Speedy got softer and softer himself.
Christian explained that Speedy wasn’t doing anything wrong. As he got more energetic behind, he had to lift his neck and head to keep his balance. Christian instructed me to ignore where Speedy’s head was and instead focused on me for a bit. We tried something that was a bit new for me, in thinking anyway. Instead of fighting with how heavy and resistant Speedy felt in my hand, he asked me to focus on developing some feel for the give.
He suggested that I can make the bit more interesting to Speedy just by talking to him with my ring fingers and by making my wrists softer. Don’t pull back or hold on, just gently move the bit around with the ring finger. I was really surprised at how much softer Speedy got when I did this at the trot.
Once he was a bit more in control, Christian had me do the same ring finger work at the canter. Again, I was really surprised at how quickly Speedy responded. Most of the time, Speedy is a really good worker who is willing to try to do what I ask. He does get the occasional wild hair, but he’s quick to come back to the conversation.
Christian wanted me to use the forward energy that Speedy was offering in the canter to work on developing the medium trot. We cantered down the long side, transitioned to a trot at C, or tried to, and came out of the corner ready to lengthen his stride.
Instead, he suggested that it was better to stay on whichever diagonal I was on and make the switch at the end of the trot lengthen. And if it takes the rider a stride or two to get on the correct diagonal at the end in the turn, it was no big deal. In some ways, this helped because I wasn’t trying to “shoot out” of the corner AND change my posting diagonal at the same time.
I am definitely looking forward to his next visit!