The lift pad came yesterday, and today I rode in it for the first time. It worked absolutely perfectly. I actually felt balanced again, instead of weird and off-balance and about to fall. She gave me a bit of rack, which was nice, and a bit of trot, which I posted without that horrible lurching feeling. I kept my hands really soft and just used them to reinforce what I was asking with my legs, and she didn’t fight me about the bit at all.
All the barn doors are open all the time now that the weather is nice. Dixie wants to go hang out in the corner where she can see the biggest door. I don’t want to close them – it’s too pleasant, and it’s good for us to scale up the distractions. At one point I asked for some more speed, so she decided to canter in a circle and head for the corner. It was easy to just sit it, wait til she tried to slow up by the corner, and swing her around and keep her moving. This is much more like it.
I got a tiny baby attempt at a shoulder-in to each side, and I was so pleased we quit right there. It seems like everything more advanced than where we are right now – for any discipline – has to introduce the difference between front legs and back legs. Somehow she is supposed to learn that my legs are asking her to move her back legs, and my hands are asking her to move her head/shoulders/front legs. No book has yet explained HOW she’s supposed to figure that out, or how I’m supposed to show her, but I think shoulder-in is a good starting point. My legs tell her back legs to go straight, my hands tell her front quarters to bend (well, move to a different parallel track), and the wall is there to help her succeed.
The other way I could think to teach “move your back legs” versus “move your front legs” is with a whip, first on the ground and then in the saddle. I’ve tried several times to get her to move her hindquarters with a whip (or a stick, or my hand) and it hasn’t worked. Either she gets upset and explodes away from the evil whip, or she thinks I want her to NOT get upset and she resolutely ignores the whip tapping on her. And, er, I’m not brave enough to try a whip under saddle again for a while.
I did reach back and touch her hips with my hand a couple times today. She got very nervous and sped up but seemed to realize I wasn’t trying to make her bolt or kill her. One day we’ll go back to the Evil Dressage Whip and hopefully it won’t seem so evil.
Oh, and I trimmed a bit off her feet too. Used the smooth side of the rasp, cause it doesn’t “chatter” so badly. I’m sure the vibrations of a rasp feel strange. Anyway, I’m just going to trim a tiny bit off her feet every day for a week, then take pics and see how it’s coming.