That was the theme for the dressage clinic yesterday. I rode Buddy first and we mostly worked on the trot, getting him to yield the outside shoulder and working on lengthening. We were riding outside and Mary had me stay on a 20 meter circle in the middle of the ring so Buddy couldn't lean on the walls. I wasn't allowed to touch my inside rein; I had to turn him from my body and outside leg. Man was it hard trying to keep him on the circle!
Once we had a few nice circles in a row and he had started to drop down and soften Mary had me start asking for lengthening on the circle. We started for half a circle, then moved up to a few times around with the lengthened stride. After we got that she had us go down the long side and ask for the lengthening. The first few times I was too tentative and Mary kept saying "more, more, more!" The third time through we got it! Buddy really stepped out and it felt like his shoulders were dislocated from the way he was moving.
After a walk break we went the other way and tried to replicate it. He picked up the canter a couple times but had a couple decent tries. We never got that same OMG feeling as we had the first way but it was still really nice work for the little cow pony! Both Buddy and I were pretty tired so we quit with just trot work.
Luckily we had a lunch break and a couple other rides before I had to go again with Wednesday. We decided to take her inside and I rode in the western saddle, just in case. Mary had us start walking with small 10 meter circles thrown in whenever she felt tense or quick. Once she was somewhat relaxed we picked up the trot and she immediately zoomed off. Mary told me to just stay with her and let her go. I was to slowly pick up my outside rein and use my posting and the small circles to slow her down. We had a couple minutes of borderline out of control trot before Wednesday started to calm down and relax. Mary had me reach up with my inside hand and pet her neck and talk to her and that really helped, every time I said "good girl" I could feel he relax and slow down.
We took a walk break and Mary had me do small figure 8s, using my body and outside leg to turn her. Wed would get very tense every time I touched the inside rein so I was under strict orders to leave a loop in it and ignore it. Again, so much harder said than done! At this point my thighs were staring to protest and I though we were going to run into a wall a couple of times. We ended with some trot-walk-trot transitions which were really nice. I was actually having to put leg on her to keep her trotting by the end. Mary said with a horse like Wed you have to be very deliberate and methodical, give her structure and be her alpha. She also said that she couldn't have ridden Wed any better than I had and that made me feel great! I'm always worried I'll screw up Wed even more, but its wonderful to hear that I'm not!!