Well first off, let me just say that my high hopes of Louie's mane being perfectly trained and lying flat are completely gone. While the binders were still in, Louie looked a bit like a Rasta horse with his hair-do today. Oh well, bands out and he's just going freestyle now.
We had another good lesson today with Julie. We've gotten a lot more "fast" but not necessarily "forward" since our last lesson. Today we worked on getting Louie more round, raising his back and lowering his neck. Walking on a circle, we worked on keeping Louie walking with good speed, light contact on both reins, and bending his body with my legs, and perhaps most importantly, holding my dang seat more still! When Louie relaxes his neck down, I need to give right away with my hands to encourage the reach. When he ducks back off of the bit, I need to get his back up, so tighten my lower abdominal muscles, and use my legs and whip to push him back up and into the contact.
We worked a lot on using my core properly to maintain my position (don't let me arms or legs get pulled forward by holding them in with my core) and trying not to "push" with my seat and wow am I sore- deep inside my lower abdomen/pelvis. I think my illiopsoas muscles hurt. I'm supposed to use my legs to control my horse's hind legs, use my core to control the saddle and the front of the horse.
Julie hopped on for a few minutes to work out an issue we were having with getting Louie to stretch down and she figured out that he needs right leg and right hand much more than left, so I need to stay stronger with those aids. She also got him to piaffe, though, not intentionally. (I think Julie likes Louie, though she thinks he's a bit lazy, but he's a nice horse and a cute horse).
We also worked on some trot work, and by the end I felt a bit like I was riding a bouncy ball. I need to practice riding like I don't have a saddle on, and landing my posting very gently (almost not landing) so I'm not sitting on my horse like my couch. Otherwise, all of the other rules apply that we've already learned.
We worked a little bit as well on counter-bending (Renvers?) on a trotting circle, I think to show me how important it is to keep my horse balanced and straight. More to come on that next week. She also said something about wrist bracelets for my puppy dog hands. . . uh oh.
Scattered in the lesson, we also worked on our halting and low and behold we did pretty decent with these. The main thing I think I learned regarding the halt is that I have to keep a light leg on him through it, don't just take everything off and let him fall into a halt, light heels (so that I don't arch my back), and very gradually use my core to stop the saddle from moving. We actually got 2 decent halts out of him with this.
Overall, it's been mostly work on me and my position/aids, and Julie uses Louie to teach me what to do. It's a little bit hard to learn, this dressage stuff, it's very complicated. Whew, my head is once again spinning, but this time I think I'm gonna be sore. Worked up a good sweat today!