My ride on Phil last night was very tiring. It was good, but tough.
I started right away with my firm leg and insisting that he go to my hand. He started by leaping into my hand, then backing off as soon as he felt the rein. This went on for about thirty seconds, then he settled down to a decent trot. But THAT only lasted a minute or so, and then he was back to attempting to leap around. I know my leg was a bit overstimulating, but it really kept him moving into my hand and that's what the goal was. That didn't mean it was an easy ride.
There was a fair amount of resistance to my hand, and plenty of resistance to going forward when I had my leg on, even though as soon as I took my leg off he didn't have any problems rushing off. Although, at times he got too quick when I put my leg on, and was kind of leaning on my hand instead of making a middle-of-the-road contact. So it seems we have two things to work on - acceptance of the leg, and acceptance of my hand.
Before last week I had let Phil lure me into the trap of not using my leg and riding off of my hand and seat. Since he's a spicy little tomato, I started to ride with my leg totally off of him most of the time in order to avoid having him bolt away. But now I see just what a mistake that was. I don't know how many times I've read "leg/seat first, then hand". I know this, I used to do this, but that tricky Phil, he fooled me!
It took most of the ride, and some pretty ugly moments, but by the end I had a nice driving trot into my hand. It made me realize that my "contact" before wasn't really contact - it was Phil setting his head in one position and me holding the reins. That wasn't true contact, and it wasn't going to get me a real connection, which I'm going to need to do anything beyond Training Level.
So now we will really start this thing correctly. We'll be working on acceptance of the aids. It's not always going to be pretty, but Phil is smart and he wants to please me, so he'll figure it out. I only hope my legs and my abs can handle it! I'm sore!