I worked myself super hard today. And Echo, come to think of it! It was such a beautiful day and I really wanted to go for a hack, but there was no one around to hack out with, so I went in the indoor school. I decided to mostly focus on myself for a change, making sure that my position was right and that I was sitting straight. I get slack with these things, having lessons so infrequently.
I even rode around with my whip behind my back, threaded through my elbows, like the picture of Pippa Funnell on her book about flatwork! It was good actually - I had Echo on the right rein, to try to get maximum benefit for her out of the exercises too. After warming her up, I took my stirrups away and rode the rest of the session without them - It really makes me think about the flexibility in my hips abd lower back, riding without stirrups - it's so good for you!! She felt amazing: she was bending really well to the right, although I was having to really work with my legs and my seat to hold that bend. My right leg tends to come forward so that when I ride her to the right, she then hangs on my right side, as it is so stiff. As soon as I started to loosen my right hip, she found it much easier to bend to the right.
I then practised some walk to canter transitions - also on the right rein. We kept getting the wrong lead, but by really concentrating on my position and how much leg I was using and in what places, I was able to get some good ones in the end. Not having stirrups meant that I was able to get her really 'through' in the canter, and she felt like her whole neck came up by about 6 inches. When I get it right, she feels like she has so much potential - I think I should try to get it right a little more often!
We were both exhausted at the end, so rather than walk her in the school, I thought I'd go for a little walk out on the heath. It was the first time I'd been out since getting scared a couple of weeks ago, so I'm really glad I did it. Because I had been riding her so strongly forward from my leg in the school, I continued to use my legs a lot out in the open too, so she was a lot more relaxed. I've found that this is the case recently; I need to ride her in the school for a bit, in order for me to really ride her. When we go straight out on a hack, I find that I tend to sit there like a lemon, which means that she takes charge more and ignores me - as you'd expect - with a lemon for a rider!
Got back to the yard and went to get off and realised that I might have overdone the whole sitting trot with no stirrups thing - my back feels like I've been doing back flips. It's a good feeling though, when you ache after something has gone well - rubbish when you ache and haven't even achieved anything!