Dressage schooling this morning. Cuna's old owner came out to help us. We'll call her ST. She immediately dropped my stirrups a hole. I can ride effectively with short stirrups, but since we're looking to impress a dressage judge, we need to think about creating length.
And connection. Have I mentioned Connection yet?
Right now, connection is the result of three main things: leg on, core engaged, outside rein. All three pieces must be in place.
Cuna tends to anticipate, so I need to use that to my advantage. Go forward immediately in the warm up. Use that trait to help me and have him DO something. If we're walking and he wants to jig, I need to immediately circle, shoulder fore, or leg yield. Give that energy a productive outlet. Then focus on going forward. Do trot/canter transitions and focus on staying exactly the same with my hands through both gaits. This gives Cuna the consistency that makes him feel comfortable.
Soft hands, following elbows. Always. Make sure to reassure Cuna that he's doing the right thing, otherwise he will worry. I need to keep my reins short so that I have a constant connection. Always have twice as much in my leg as I have in my hand. ENGAGE CORE.
We did a little bit of ring craft. When coming down center line, the judge can see our track and the consistency of Cuna's frame and not a ton else. Make sure to put Cuna's outside on centerline. If I think "middle of horse on center", I will overshoot it and lose points. Stay connected. Halt from core. When trotting off, think about the straight line ahead instead of the turn following. Cuna knows to stay in the ring, but don't force him to anticipate the turn.
Thanks to the butt kickings for ST and our consistent practice, Cuna is going really, really well. I think we're going to rock our dressage test. I may even get all wild and crazy and take him to a dressage schooling show next month.