A few quick Friday lesson notes.
One thing that I had flirted with in a ride earlier this week paid off in spades in my lesson: rather than a full long rein walk break I incorporated a few minutes at a time of deep stretchy walk and trot. It was easier to keep him marching forward through the hind end, and he really loved taking the bit out as far as he could. The catch is to keep him from just falling on his forehand, but he wasn’t actually too bad. Then when I picked him up again he felt like he’d gotten a respite and was soft and lifting again without nearly as much fuss.
I also had some real lightbulb moments with my canter. In short: I had been thinking too much of my position as one circle of energy that helped Tristan lift from his hind end and cycle through to the bit. That meant that my seat and my hands were working together a bit too much. In other words, when my seat f S. showed me what she was seeing and how that was blocking Tristan from coming through, and I picked up the canter again, I focused clearly on breaking up that loop. The visualization that sprang to mind almost immediately was of two circles. One for my hands/elbows and one for my hips/seat. Both circles followed the canter motion in slightly different ways, with slightly different rhythms and were really more ovals than circles in the way they moved in space.
Thinking about that also prompted some cooling out thinking about how we talk about an independent seat. Perhaps this isn’t the most original revelation ever, but: I think so often we talk about an independent seat in one specific way, as in, “can you sit on a horse without using your connection to the bit to brace or balance yourself?”
What I had been unconsciously blocking was a different level of independent seat: can you use your seat and your arms independently of each other, not just not depending on each other, but actually truly operating with different degrees of volume, different rhythms, different softness, and different ways of communicating at the same time?
Reader, I cannot. But I think that cracking that open inside my brain will help me get there. I had already been working very hard recently on not hardening my elbow for the second or two when I asked for bend (somehow, I cannot keep a soft, following elbow and turn my wrist for an indirect aid; one or the other only!), so this will be something to add to keep track of.