Welcome to a short homework series based on the things that I learned and worked on in my June 1st lesson with Harley. I hope that you find some of our work helpful to your own riding
or, at least, interesting to think about.
Keep my wrists soft.
This is a common directive in dressage, but my teacher's way of explaining it is unique. My thumbs should be on top, BUT my wrists should be "rounded" toward one another. I know that this sounds weird, maybe even wrong, but it does not look wrong in practice and my horse's way of going improves. If I can touch the knuckles of my right and left fists together while I am holding the reins, then I am holding them correctly. My forearms form a "V" in front of my torso. Have you heard the expression "hands together, horse together?" I think of this when she instructs me to make this correction in my position.
My instructor revealed to me that I am more likely to tighten up my wrists going to the left, especially when Harley's motor starts to overpower his front end. Next my shoulders come up, my shoulder blades squeeze together, and the spiral of imbalance continues from there. I told her about pointing my thumbs toward either side of the bit and she did not say that this was wrong, but she did change the position of my hands to what I described above.
Harley's response to this was to become lighter on his feet. His head and neck also came up more and he could keep his neck longer while doing so. He was also less likely to lean on the reins or fall forward, especially to the left. This gave me more of a "working" forearm, as described by my teacher. I guess my forearm wasn't working before. ;)