So, a few weeks ago I had a pretty yucky lesson in which it was pointed out that I had allowed a severe lapse in impulsion. Well, it wasn't really that yucky, I suppose. I needed that lack of impulsion pointed out to me and it was fixed by the end of the lesson with the help of my trainer. Unfortunately, my trainer can't be there every ride to yell at me when I goof up. So, I had to do a lot of contemplation to figure out what exactly was going wrong and how to fix it by myself.
I had cemented that forward, uphill feeling from my lesson in my mind and set to work recreating it by myself. And this is where that pesky idea of "feel" comes in.
I hate that word. What does it even mean? Nobody really knows (I've asked), or at least they can't give a definition that is good enough for my highly analytical thought process. That's the problem with "feel". It's not something that can be defined or broken down to physics or chemistry. There's no formula for "feel". It can't be taught, but it has to be learned. But, I digress..... We were talking about impulsion:
So, with the feeling of forward fresh in my mind, I began to think about what was happening while I was in the saddle and at what times my horse was forward. I eventually came up with a Grand Scheme: Every time I felt like I wanted to fuss with my hands, I just needed to kick my horse.
I know, I know... We're not supposed to fuss with our hands. I believe it's one of the Ten Commandments of Dressage. But, I'd be lying if I said that I don't ever have the urge to do it anyway. It's human nature, we're a very handsy species. We're genetically programmed to do everything, including riding, with our hands. Just have a look in the warm up ring of your local dressage show if you want confirmation of that.
Every so often when I ride I get this overwhelming urge to do something with my hands. With Spider not consistently forward, I was getting that urge more often. Why? And then it hit me. I was trying to get the connection back.
Spider was dropping behind my leg, which broke his connection to my hand. I wanted to get the connection back. My instinct is to use my hand to get it back, but that's not right. The only way to get the connection back is to drive the horse back up to my hand. Hence: "When I want to do something with my hands, I just kick my horse instead".
And that is feel. Well, it's feel for me. Who knows what it's like for everyone else!?
Oh, and there's an epilogue...
My Grand Scheme has worked, for me at least. Lack of impulsion was not mentioned even once in my most recent lesson. I was even complimented on Spider's energy and uphill balance. Now I just have to work on the lateral work...... It never ends, does it?