I'd not realized that while I wasn't riding, my rein callouses were going away. I suddenly realized this yesterday when I discovered that I have rein blisters. Alas. :)
However, this is a good thing, in a way. I'm working at the consistent, soft contact with Rev, so her neck gets long and relaxed from her wither to her poll and uses the muscles along the topline instead of the bottom of her neck. So I have a lot more horse in my hands than I used to, at least until she softens and comes down and round. Then I don't have to have much in my hands at all, until she starts to change the contact, try to come off the outside rein, or try to hang on the right rein (whether it's inside or outside).
And what's cool is that it's WORKING! I had a great ride last night. I'm able to get that contact and that long round neck more quickly and keep it for longer, especially in the walk. We're getting to the point where I can do the walk pretty well. And toward the end of the ride, I was able to get her to come down and round in the trot, too! It wasn't nearly as consistently nice as the walk was, and it took a lot of transitions, both from walk to trot and from short trot to longer trot. But eventually she came down. Hooray! Even when she wasn't long and round through the neck, I still had contact, just ... not the kind of contact I wanted. Practice practice.
So the thing I'm working on moving to next is getting her to stay that connected through the outside rein through transitions from walk to trot, and then in the trot itself. Things I've noticed are:
* That this all works best when my seatbones are balanced correctly. This seems obvious, but hey. Gimme a break. What I really notice is what "balanced" actually feels like. As soon as I get out of balance, things fall apart wit' a quickness ... so more and more and more practice on balance.
* When she's in good contact, it's much easier for me to drape my leg adhesively, to keep my leg position correct, and to use my leg correctly. Whether this is because of the balance of my seatbones or the upper body position having her connected demands I be in, I don't know, but there you have it.
* It's easiest to establish contact in the trot if I start in a slower, shorter trot. Which makes sense, seeing as the first step in our workouts these days is a slow, very controlled walk -- it translates into trot well.
* MT pointed out that when I give a leg aid, I often forget about my rein aid. Yep. From Rev's reactions as I work through transitions, that's exactly it. (Unsurprising, since MT is the expert ...) So I'm working at keeping contact through the transitions.
More riding! MOAR! :)