Right from the start, the lesson began building on the former one. As a part of warmup, C had me work on the circles we'd done two weeks prior. The concept on inside leg to outside rein and getting Grif's inside leg to reach up and under his body was one my brain and body were a lot more comfortable with this go around. C had (surprisingly to me) nothing but praise for us.
We quickly moved from repeated circles in one direction to working on a figure-8, changing our bend from one direction to the other. They felt good and C praised us accordingly, then had us perform the same exercise in the trot where we continued to find success. I was a bit surprised we'd done so well with so little practice between lessons, but I chalked it up to my frequent mental review of the work we'd done and a much better comfort through my body as I asked Griffin for things. I'm a firm believer that our horses are capable of anything - the trick is asking and guiding them correctly. Griffin has proved my point for me countless times through our years together, constantly excelling in all of our endeavors.
Satisfied with our level of work, C had me use her as the center and asked me to spiral inward on a circle at the trot using the same concepts we'd just done. I'm quite familiar with this exercise, as it's one I've been practicing for years at home. We began on a ~10 meter circle traveling to the right and spiraled in to C as small as we could be while keeping balance and a steady forward rhythm. To me, it felt like Griffin's haunches were drifting out and away from his body, much like a drifting racecar on a dirt track. C laughed at my comparison and comment and told me that no, he was actually bending beautifully and reaching with his inside hind. Photographic evidence supports her claim more than mine (and this is why I'm pursuing lessons with knowledgeable eyes on the ground)!
|Yeah, that hind end isn't drifting away like my mind thought it was. Guess I'm just not used to what things are supposed to feel like, haha|
I have to admit, riding him through the exercise did feel very nice to the right. While initially my brain wanted to categorize his hind end as drifting, I realized once I worked the exercise to the left that it really, truly wasn't. Because to the left, we've got issues. It's most definitely Griffin's weak side. To combat the difficulties on his weak side, Grif threw his shoulder out, hollowed his back and sped up, or tried to slow down to a walk. And because two (or more) wrongs clearly make a right (that's how it works, right? lol), I combated his issues by developing a rogue right hand and throwing away my outside rein. I could feel myself doing it, but it was like someone else took control of my body for a bit as my elbow straightened and my hand reached toward Griffin's ears.
C repeatedly reminded me to keep my elbow at my side and make my outside rein a "wall" to prevent Griffin throwing or popping his shoulder out. As I resolved one of Griffin's attempts to escape working on his weak side, he then began to curl behind the bit. To counter, C had me all but drop my inside rein, riding completely on inside leg to outside rein. We got some good moments from this, but I definitely need to practice more and help Griffin build strength and muscle memory on this side.
Ultimately, right now, Griffin needs one trot stride, or merely me thinking about doing a trot stride and instead half-halting, to have success with changes. This is absolutely not surprising and totally expected. Also, Griffin is definitely weaker on his left lead, more often picking up the wrong lead in that direction. Once again, this certainly isn't surprising considering the issues we had traveling left in our trot circles earlier. More than anything, I'm grateful to understand what we're capable of and what our limitations are for the moment. Even more so, I understand how I need to use my body better and to ask for the change of bend/change of lead which is only going to help us improve.
I'm so pleased with what we're accomplishing so far through these lessons. I'm not quite sure when we'll make it up for another, but I'm hopeful there will be one or two next month when C returns from vacation. She messaged me following our lesson last night to share how much fun she's having teaching Lauren and I - so sweet! We're having an equal amount of time being taught, so it works well.