I had a lesson with John on Wednesday and decided to get him to help me with teaching Echo quarters in. I had tried to start teaching her the day before, but we just got in a real tangle. She expects the outside leg back to mean canter and I couldn't persuade her that it could mean something else, as she kept running through my contact. I gave up, as she was getting in more and more of a strop and I knew I needed help.
The reason I wanted to teach it to her was because she has such difficulties with her hindlegs - I thought that if I could move them laterally, then it would get her to engage them more easily. John agreed that this was a good idea and I explained my problem to him. To begin with, he got me doing turn on the forehand, so that she got the hang of moving just her hindlegs away from my leg going back. First we did turn on the forehand from halt, then from walk. Once she stopped running through my hand (John told me I had to 'close the door' in front and to tell her off if she ignored that) she was very good at this. He then told me to come round onto the short side of the arena and put my outside leg back to ask for the quarters to come in slightly.
She didn't understand at all and kept speeding up and bracing against my hand, but after a few attempts, she did move her quarters in ever so slightly, which was enough to begin with. We did it on both reins and got a small movement each time. It was at this point that John reminded me of the reason I was attempting the exercise - because she has difficulties with her hindlegs - therefore of course she's going to find it difficult. But the process of asking for it made her walk so much better, and particularly her right bend improved and she was taking a decent contact in my left rein.
After getting a small movement in walk, John then got me to try it in trot. Again, the movement was marginal, but it was something at least. He then told me to do the same in canter, asking for quarters in on one side of the arena and shoulder in on the other. This was quite interesting, as when I asked for shoulders in, I lost the outside contact and she fell out through that shoulder, meaning that she rushed onto her forehand. When I asked for quarters in, although I didn't get much angle, the canter became much more active and uphill. I wouldn't normally encourage too much quarters in in canter, but particularly on the right rein (my bad rein) the added outside leg really engaged her hindlegs and got her moving.
It was a really good lesson, as we achieved something that I wanted to. We started out not being able to do something, and made positive steps towards achieving it by the end. My friend videoed the lesson (although her camera doesn't have the technology to put it on the computer unfortunately) and although Echo looked great, it was a bit of a wake up call for me to sort out my position. I had a pretty good seat when I used to work for David and I was a bit appalled by my posture and flexibility on the video. I concentrated pretty hard on that this evening when I schooling Echo, but I could do with someone shouting at me like the good old days!!
John also talked to me at the end of my lesson about rein back and the aids for collection and I am rather confused about these. When I have got them sorted in my head I will post about them, as I would love to know what other people think.