So last week in my lesson, I didn't have anything in particular I wanted to work on, so my instructor picked the focus: getting my legs in proper dressage position. It went well and I felt like I accomplished something.
But that's not what I'm writing about today.
When she asked me to canter, I was focusing so much on keeping my leg back and long while keeping my lazy QH going that I was flinging my upper body back and forth in time with the canter, rather than following from my seat. She asked me to come to the center of the ring.
"So you need to bring your hips up like this," she said, demonstrating an upward scoop with her lower back. She lowered her voice. "It's just like having sex. Just up and back like this." Suddenly her scooping motion looked like something very different.
So we tried the canter again--this time, with me humping the saddle to the pace I wanted to keep him at. Scoop, scoop, scoop.
"More! Exaggerate the motion more! Even more than that!" called my instructor. These were mega-humps.
I felt absolutely ridiculous--not to mention disappointed that I had learned the whole stereotype of riding being "sexy" was not without merit. Though the way I was exaggerating my scoops, it probably looked more spastic than sexy. But suddenly, I could feel my hip flexors loosening up and absorbing the motion. I tried to keep my back still, and I pictured my legs being dragged backward in the sand as we went forward (another visual that works really well for me). I didn't have to act as a crutch for lazy Shadow any more--my seat was keeping the gait, while my legs were free to act as backup, or to balance him in the turns, or do any of the many things that had seemed so difficult when they were reminding Shadow every two seconds that we were still cantering.
And that's my "aha" moment, for better or for worse.
I attempted to recreate that when I rode today so I could video it, but I don't think my humps were exaggerated enough. I definitely didn't get that same tall, long-legged, loose-hipped feeling...and I definitely did get some awful video of me riding in a chair seat and flinging my upper body around. It will take some more practice.
However, I found out that Shadow really appreciated me putting him under the heat lamps before we rode. He was looking a bit bedraggled--I guess he was out in the rain for a while today, and he wasn't quite dry yet. It wasn't actually that cold in the arena, but I also warmed up with his cooler sheet on. And WOW, what a different horse. He gave me a beautiful, energetic walk right from the get-go, and he seemed relaxed and happy rather than his usual "Oh, well, fine, if I have to" attitude. All right, point taken!
So although I didn't get good video of me today, I got a very cute shot of Shadow looking into the camera. Enjoy!