Had a decent ride last night. I'm still working on contact and developing timing and feel ... this is going to take a while. I was able to keep mostly good contact through a lot of the ride, but keeping it during transitions, especially upward transitions, is really challenging. I can keep contact during down transitions pretty well, but in up transitions Rev raises her head and tries to avoid the contact. I need to ask MT about this the next time I ride with him.
Another thing I worked on was shortening her step significantly, then lengthening, then shortening, then lengthening again. I thought at the time that I was doing okay, as I got the stride change I wanted, but on reflection later, I realize I wasn't doing as well as I wanted to. I took more contact and did a strong half-halt, which was effective in that she shortened, but it wasn't what I wanted in that her head came way up and she stopped carrying me. Head up is okay, if she's still in contact, but I think it wasn't right. I'll practice that more this evening, see if I can keep things more consistent through the shortening, then let her stretch through the lengthening. She's good at that, of course, and it really frees her up through her body.
An interesting thing that I haven't been aware of in the past came up -- I felt her inside hind not carrying. Intellectually, I know this is a problem of hers, but I'd never really felt it before and realized that it needed correcting. Last night, I felt that hind leg. I don't quite know how to correct that, though. Definitely a question for MT -- he knows. Shoulder-in, maybe? Or just rearrange my balance in the saddle to weight my inside seatbone a bit more, and rearrange the contact in both reins to be the same in each? Something to play with tonight, for sure.
I'm facing a little bit of frustration with my lack of skill -- I know she knows how to keep contact. I know she knows how to work that inside hind, even though it's hard. I know this because MT can do it with her. However, I can't -- I don't know how to affect those things strongly enough. I shouldn't be frustrated, because really, self, come on! MT has thirty years on me, and he's a natural talent besides. Skill + talent + practice = superb rider. I shouldn't feel too bad about it, just keep working at what he's teaching me and at learning for myself. Still, frustrating! I want to be better, NOW! :)
And it seems I pulled something in my left calf. *shrug* Don't know how or when, but it might have been Monday? There's just a patch about the size of my palm that's really tender to the touch, and there's a lump under the skin. It seems to be muscular, so I'm icing it, taking ibuprofen, and using a topical analgesic cream. If it gets significantly worse or doesn't change at all within a week or two, I'll worry then. For now, though, pain seems to be my lot in life. *grin* I'll cope.
Anyway, yeah. Riding tonight, and more work on consistent, elastic contact, correct leg aids, and seeing if I can't affect that inside hind better.
Incidentally, there's a new boarder at the barn who turns out to be very cool and very nice. She's awesome -- an F15 pilot, has a lovely TB she's taken Prelim, and is just generally friendly. She's closer to my age, too, which is cool. Nice girl. :)