I did my best to follow the advice in the comments on my last picture post. I dropped my stirrups one hole and I could tell an immediate difference in being able to get my leg underneath me. One commenter (Green Slobber) advised me to forget about his head being up in the air and to instead concentrate on relaxing and having a proper position. She said the head would take care of itself eventually. She is exactly right. Everything I’ve read about dressage (and there’s been quite a bit recently) says the same thing- ride your horse from back to front! Don’t worry about forcing his head down; just ride balanced and relaxed and as you relax, your horse will loosen up and drop his head.
I think sometimes I make riding harder than it is. I fell into the trap of thinking that I could find some secret formula for a round horse and a pretty headset. I thought if I could just afford the “right” trainer, an indoor arena, or a fancy German saddle, then my horse and my riding would improve. The truth is, good riding comes from a lot of hard work. All those extras are helpful, but at the end of the day all of that is superfluous to the harsh reality that my riding will improve with lots of practice. And more practice. And then a little more practice. There are no shortcuts. It’s a good thing I’m a firm believer in good old fashioned hard work!
Here are the pictures of our last ride with my stirrups dropped one hole. I concentrated on my leg position and posting lightly to make sure I wasn’t flopping down on his back. I also rode on a loose rein to make sure I wasn’t balancing against his mouth. I think we had a waaaaaay better ride. I got some beautiful pictures and, even though my position wasn’t perfect, he was definitely more relaxed and it shows in the photos.
Quick note about the video. There’s one part where I stand up in the stirrups to try and find my balance point. It was harder than I expected. I used to surf so I was used to standing up and balancing on a moving object. I was surprised I had so much trouble standing in the stirrups.
And the video, if you’re bored…