A few weeks ago, it looked as though some of my Ventura friends were going to be attending the Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC), including Chemaine Hurtado, my occasional dressage trainer. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for them to come. I was a bit disappointed as I was really looking forward to a lesson on Friday night.
A different dressage friend, VG, did make it to RAAC, and she brought her trainer, Peggy Klump. Peggy was a California Dressage Society president, currently serves on the CDS board, and is a well-respected trainer. I asked VG privately if Peggy would be willing to give me an unscheduled lesson, and when she said she thought so, I asked, and the next thing I knew, I was getting some coaching after all.
VG rides First and Second Level right now, quite successfully, but is moving to Third and Fourth for next season. That little German Riding Pony can bust a move! VG won one of her RAAC classes and scored in the 70s for a second place in her other RAAC class while also earning high score for all Novice RAAC entries. Pretty darned good!
She gave me a lot of information, but the two things that I kept in mind during the show were her tips on improving my geometry (LOOK WHERE YOU"RE GOING!), and the idea of soft hands. This one was huge.
I hold a lot of tension in my wrists, so Peggy pointed it out and showed me what a soft hand can feel like. She actually grabbed my hands and tugged and pulled so that I could feel what was happening in Speedy's mouth. Her analogy was to think of a dental hygienist. Would I want her knocking on my mouth or using even pressure? Speedy responded immediately when I released the tension, which was enough of a motivator for me to begin implementation of soft hands ASAP.
Throughout all four tests, that soundtrack played repeatedly in the background of my mind … soft hands, soft hands, soft hands.