Me: you know Carmen, this wind could be viewed as a 'glass half full' kind of situation.
Carmen: The glass is totally half empty and we're about to be attacked. I'm blaming you for my death.
Me: Well sure it's windy. And that is a bit freaky. But on the plus side there are no bugs. Am I right?
Me: C'mon you know I'm right. You HATE the bugs and they can't get to us through this wind.
Carmen: I'm pretty sure it's a hurricane but you have a point.
Shanea arrived and I reviewed what we've been up to. I confessed to having ridden a lot and that that was probably contributing to her extra energy today. I also said that I was really working on not leaning forward into a forked seat when she got tense but that was still requiring mental effort.
What I love about Shanea is that she was not judgmental about my lack of riding. She recognizes that life can sometimes be hectic. I am grateful for not getting the 'dedication lecture' that I have received from other instructors over the years.
We went to work on the circle and the goal was to get Carmen to stretch over her back and reach for the bit. She wasn't to curl behind the vertical but stretch her nose out. It was interesting to work on that. She's definitely coming- we would get it and then go by a spooky spot and lose it and then get it back. This exercise really helped me to feel when her back was relaxed and when it was tight and how that impacted on her walk rhythm. When it's tight she's dangerously close to a lateral walk. I had ot be sure that my outside leg was not blocking her bending through.
When we switched direction Carmen decided that the spooky spot was REALLY scary and tried to bulge in and away (or it was because she was tired of working or a some combination of that). Shanea had me tackle it by first asking her to go back with my inside leg and if she resisted let her come off the rail and then circle back towards to spot. It wasn't about confronting the scary thing but more like 'okay, if you want to counter bend, sure, lets go with that' That was less of a fight and then we would circle back the original way. This exercise is very similar to one that Royce had me do last year. And it really works. After a a couple times she simply would peek at it and then carry on.
We practiced figure 8's on the 20 m circle and Shanea has me really focus on my bending aids: old bend, straight, new bend and then both legs on to carry forward. Doing that made everything a lot more fluid and more from the legs and seat then from the reins.
We trotted the circle. Here's a brief video of it. So much to improve but at least my hands are not as bad as they used to be:
We ended there and all three of us were pretty happy. This gave me some real tools to take into our show next week.