(Kiki enjoys her paddock on another gorgeous day in Aiken)
Today I had a lesson on the flat with Kiki that was very exciting because it was the first time I'd ridden and really felt like I was finally getting over my rustiness. Better yet, Kiki responded by being absolutely fabulous!
We started by just working at the walk getting me to sit properly and hold the right level of contact in the reins (not pulling, not throwing it away). After Suzi had had to give me a little talking to about my hands at the beginning of my lesson yesterday, I was extra determined to stay fluid and connected. It sounds so obvious, but it was amazing what a difference carrying my hands properly made: much much less head flipping and a far more consistent balance and pace. When I first got her she would fall onto her forehand and start leaning on the reins SO HARD that I had to (I still think correctly, and I was told to do this by multiple different trainers) really jab back her to get her off the reins and re-oriented. Now she's much more balanced in general, so it's me that has to get re-oriented to giving her a much more "grown up" and subtle ride.
We did some walk to sitting trot transitions, trying to keep her in a little more of an uphill balance than she's used to. She was such a star!! It was hard work but she buckled right down and tried to do what I was asking her. I was happy because I sat well (!!! YAY !!!), kept carrying my hands well, and was able to maintain her balance and change pace within the gait using just my seat instead of my legs or hands. This was pretty huge, and it was the first time she'd felt so good in her trot since the middle of August last year. Suzi was very happy with my riding and happily surprised with how Kiki looked, as she's been riding her and hasn't got a chance to see her go.
After a quick walk break we worked the canter a bit. The canter is definitely Kiki's weak spot at this point, and when she gets hopping I have a hard time not getting jostled out of position. So, it was very satisfying today to get some good work! Certainly nothing stellar, but a few circles where she was straight and pushing through - pretty huge for us!! I was able to hold my position better than I have been so far this trip, which really made me happy. Maybe I'll have kicked the rust off by the time I have to go home...
That was it for today, but I left really feeling like I had a plan for what to do going forward: what my position should feel like, what her trot should feel like, and what our homework points are. We're going to do a little schooling show on Sunday to just do a dressage test: a perfect opportunity to practice! I'm nervous I won't be able to fit into my nice breeches (though man, Papa and I have been SO HEALTHY so far; I definitely think I've slicked down a little bit in the week since arriving) but otherwise very, very excited.
In sad news, I'm driving Pa to the airport first thing tomorrow morning. After that, I move into the house at Suzi's, which doesn't have internet, so my posts will probably be a bit more intermittent from here. Here's to more good rides and happy ponies to report when I next get a chance to check in =)