It was a day of some interesting discoveries for my riders today. I was really quite sleepy and very very tired so probably didn't put my normal 100% into the lessons but I did try my best.
First of all we cracked on with my advanced rider's problem - rigid ankles. She's a lovely rider and very focused but needs to work on letting go through the leg instead of bracing against the motion, especially in transitions.
So today we kept it quite simple but worked a lot on body awareness. It transpired that there was a few things A. wasn't doing while thinking she was and vice versa.
The simplest test we did was while standing in the stirrups (one of my favourite balance exercises, it improves the rider's seat in matter of minutes). I asked A. whether she thought her heels were level with her toes, up or down. She identified her heels as being down while they were actually slightly up.
She then did a few simple stretches on her lower leg. allowing the heel to drop deep, then she tiptoed in the stirrups, then levelled the foot etc Those simple movements created the muscle memory of each position and the feel of it.
We then proceeded to trot-canter work and A. was to allow the ankle the same 'closing and opening of the joint' as it was happening in her hip joints in both gates.
Using her words "It felt totally different and so good!!!"
Here is a short video showing the exercise at halt.
After lunch I had a hack with a lovely lady who rode well so we could just relax and enjoy Richmond Park (which is one my favourite places ever for many reasons).
One of the Gates to the Park: