Last summer, Silva gave Philip Dutton's campers our day 1 dressage lesson. I was pretty nervous before that lesson as I don't partake in the buffet of dressage queen selections too often. I don't like change. But, sometimes change is a very good thing and just what you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. And Silva, well, she was amazing then and now! And she has the most wonderful phrases that just beg to be mantras. Last summer she told me that Katchi must finish each step with his hind legs (we've seen a lot of dressage test comments about more energy from behind...). "Finish each step... Finish each step..." That carried me from July until now.
Katchi and I have been working very hard the past couple of weeks to condition ourselves for yesterday's 45 minute dressage lesson. And it's a good thing, because Silva didn't disappoint! So, here are my new mantras for the next 2 weeks until the next Silva clinic -
1. "Put myself in a frame first." I can't expect Katchi to be balanced with core strength if I can't do the same for myself. So, before I can ask him to engage from behind, relax his neck, and lighten his shoulders, I have to be strong enough to keep myself in a frame. Through the pain from yesterday, I did sit-ups this morning. Is two weeks enough time to "fix" your core weakness??
2. "Let my elbows swing without showing it in my hands." The sitting trot. I'm an eventer. In today's eventing world, we don't have to sit the trot until Prelim. Prelim is almost a short-term goal. Sitting trot. And did we ever sit the trot yesterday! Last spring, I went out to watch Rolex in Kentucky, and I really focused on watching for stiff lower backs - it was amazing the terrible things that a rider's stiff lower back would do to a horse's engagement and movement. For almost a year now, I have been working on developing an absorbing, flowing, and strong lower back. In watching the video of yesterday, I'm quite happy with the progress I've been making on that. Now onto my shoulders, elbows and hands. It really isn't very pretty to look like you're slumped over your computer keyboard when you're sitting atop a magnificent horse! Katchi would be embarrassed for me if he could see the video.
3. "Lean back." At the end of my lesson, Silva said - it doesn't matter who it is or that they have any idea why or what - I just need someone standing in the arena saying "lean back" every stride. So much for needing a brilliant instructor - I just need a tape recorder. Well, at least that's cheaper.
P.S. I LOVE THE NEW TRAILER!!! And I think even Katchi is pretty pleased with his new Porsche! And a very special thanks to Debi for giving me moral support over the Bay Bridge in the rain in the new trailer (AGH!) and for being a cinematic genius with the video camera.