Let's face it, though: this horse could make lime green and fuschia classy. She is that awesome.
We had a reasonably good ride. Izzy's walk is definitely improving and I'm doing better at riding it without interfering. She gave me some really lovely work, especially at the trot. I'm focusing on really keeping my hands level, even, and still, which allows her to use the contact for balance and really learn to trust it. As a result of that and riding her a lot more forward, she's giving me some of the best trot work we've ever had. She's really using her hind end to carry her forward and I love it.
However. As great as she was, I'm really not happy with how I rode. I have a lot of bad habits to work on fixing, I felt like I was just sort of along for the ride without being proactive about what I was doing. I need to focus on keeping my shoulders back and upper body stretching up while reaching long through my legs (limp bacon. say with me: limp bacon). This will allow me to stretch down into my heels which adds tone to my calf muscles which allows me to use my leg aids more effectively.
All of the above is important BECAUSE when I feel like I have Izzy really forward and going well, I lose all fine tuned control. Sigh. I know it's possible to have her forward and straight and actually be able to turn. WE CAN DO THIS. One minor tweak I made yesterday was to think about riding to the right in a very slight counterbend. It's more to fix myself than her, but my right side is stronger and less flexible, so I tend to lose her left shoulder and then we have no motor control. The very slight counterbend keeps us both aligned, and then we are actually straight.
Our other exciting advance was shoulder fore. I don't think I'd even attempted it since our last lesson, which was sometime in December. We've done little leg yields here and there, but I haven't been able to coordinate my aids enough to get her set up for the shoulder fore in the tiny little indoor. One other lady who does dressage was riding with us, and with a little help from her, we actually managed a nice shoulder in to the left and a decent shoulder fore to the right. Hurray!
Maybe it's just my imagination, but I think Izzy's musculature is actually catching up to her training. Proper dressage body, here we come.
PS Our second anniversary of togetherness is coming up. I'm trying to think of something cool to do (photoshoot!!) but let me know if you have any awesome ideas.