Almost as important as the ride, was my walk back to the round pen right after work to check for puddles (of which there were none). Rather than Chewie's standard reaction of 1)show no interest in what I was doing, or 2)run around the pasture, terrified he'd have to work again, he actually walked up to me, nuzzled a little, and followed me back to the gate out. I could almost see him asking, "Can we work today, Mom? I missed you yesterday, and Sunday was pretty scary. Can we work together please?" I couldn't tell him no, even though my plans weren't to ride yesterday, but to relax him another day off. Oh well, I ran inside, walked the doggies quick, and out to catch an awaiting, anxious horse.
Lightbulb moment last night. Warmed Chewie up free lunge, 10 minutes. No side reins, since I didn't plan on the ride being for his benefit, but for my learning.
Rode in my dressage saddle, trying to focus on homework from the last lesson. Robin asked that I focus on sitting trot, trying to feel like I was sitting on the back of my seatbones, almost leaning back in the saddle. I worked on a little regular rising trot, trying to see where his mood was. He was great, so I sat, trying to stay as still as possible.
Transitioned back & forth from walk to trot & back to walk. At one point, I scooted my rear underneath of me, checked my jeans, and I was suddenly almost sitting on my pockets. It helped that I was trying to ride in blue jeans in almost-too-long-stirrups, with that stupid "all four parts of the blue jeans meet here" seam right in the middle of my crotch. Made it awful uncomfortable to sit like I've been doing. *That's* what all those lessons meant when I'd hear "move so you're trying to sit on your pockets." I may have finally figured it out. I stared at my shadow off of the sunset a while, trying to check if I was aligned up & down with a straight back. The shadow looked much like the illustration in the CR book.
Better yet, as soon as I sat what felt like leaning back, it was all I could do to keep Chewie from trotting off. His walk was HUGE! As soon as I changed my seat, he immediately moved incredibly freely, and as long as my arms & elbows kept moving, he stayed just off of the bit, accepting the light contact. Another confirmation that horse is entirely smarter than I am. The sitting trot felt much different in this new seat - I didn't bounce on every stride, but rather every other one, and rather than up & down, I felt like I was pushed forward. I doubt he was giving me his full effort at trot, since I didn't have any leg on him pushing, but it certainly felt more like more effort than an itty-bitty jog. I tried to focus on pulling myself into the saddle, holding onto the pommel with my inside hand, as well as using soft eyes, focusing up ahead. I did peek at his track in the dirt a little bit towards the end of the ride, and it looked like a "tracking up" set of hoofprints. YAY!
A fantastic 45 minutes, ended with some excellent collected walk.