The other weekend, over the 4th of July weekend, I had the opportunity to ride with one of the coaches that comes into the barn.
Clinician J's point of emphasize on balance of the pelvis, the structure, and how to use it to influence the horse. A lot of Saturday was spent in the walk and off the horse. At one point and time, the coach actually had me feel which muscles and the tilt of the pelvis she would use to influence the horse in the walk. Nothing like being up close and personal!
She had me stay in the walk at first and utilize my pelvis to influence the stride and speed of her walk. She felt that often I was letting Chili drive and that I often maintain a passive pelvis that is the source of some of our inconsistency.
She also emphasized keeping a steady quiet contact, no matter what the horse was doing and if she was winging her body around. I was right and the horse was incorrect in her response, which is probably true.
Usually our rides go like this:
Me: Please take this contact
Chili: For only one stride, then I want to swing my haunches in
Me: Put inside leg on and probably pull on a rein I wasn't supposed to. Please stop swinging your haunches in.
Chili: *loses contact and goes above the bit* Huzzah. I win.
-rinse and repeat-
By trying to maintain a soft contact and having me actively ignore Chili's running commentary, I actually had a proper working walk with minimal inconsistency in contact and less work evasions. It didn't really matter if I was going straight as the initial point of the exercise was to maintain the rhythm from my pelvis and to accept and carry the bit.
On Sunday, we started off reviewing Saturday's lesson, then moved into keeping me busy. Clinician J did correctly surmise I like to override my horse and annoy her as well.
At one point and time, she alternated leg yields, shoulder in, and various circles and diagonals to keep me busy. After a few laps of the arena, she stopped me and told me her intentions (which I had guessed) were to keep my mind busy enough that one, the horse was kept to the task at hand and two, I stopped annoying my horse by overriding and usually either shoving with my pelvis or wandering off with my right hand.
I was pleased that she did let me know that would have scored one of my shoulders in a 7. It sounds silly to hope for a 7, but it was nice for a few strides to have her really feel connected inside leg to outside rein and to just side and ride. I wasn't really doing much besides just thinking of the movement I wanted and it happened.
Then I overrode it next time I actually thought about what I was doing.
At the end, the clinician had us working on shallow canter loops on the left lead. Our left lead at times has been tricky as I haven't always prepared her very well and she just prefers to pick up the right lead.
But she picked up the left lead well and it was a good lesson for me to keep riding the canter, sit back, and stop being so passive. If I ended up being passive, she would come down to trot. It is tricky to me to slowly reformulate my thinking of having an active seat/pelvis and not shoving. I don't know where I picked up that habit along the way, but I would prefer if it would please disappear.