I have always kept a journal next to my bed where I write down thoughts and pictures after my lessons or exceptional rides. Thought I would share some of them from a lesson I had on August 3, 2011.
* When we ride, we want our horses to "rise" in the front, using their hind legs as the engine that gets them there. A visual you can use is of your horse climbing stairs. They will have to sink back on the hind legs in order to push themselves to the next step.
* To get more forward movement you need to create space for them to come into. I have a tendancy to shut my knees and upper legs which in effect closes the space and pushes the horse back. In order to counteract this I imagined a bowlegged cowboy. Your legs need to gently drape around the horses belly with the closest part at the bottom of the belly (near your ankle) and the most open part at the top of your leg.
* How many times have you either felt or looked down to see the outside shoulder poking out, destroying the straightness of the horse? When I first started dressage I thought the best way to get him straight would be to pull on that inside rein. If he's going out, we want to pull him in, right? Wrong! Think about it this way... if the left side is bowing out like big C, you would push on the part of the C that is furthest to the left to get it straight or to turn it back into an I shape. Use your leg to push the body back to straight and the rein on the same side should also receive more pressure. This was one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp but try it... the horse will respond just the way he should and you will go aha!