I had a lesson this morning - Dawn was my instructor. She worked with me on my position, and helped a lot to clarify what I was doing. She's a very good teacher, and is patient and persistent - I could almost hear her saying to herself: "must reward the try . . . must reward the try . . ."
We did a lot of forward trot work, and lots of circles and changes of direction - we were working on my position during turns. Here's a bit of our dialogue as we trotted along . . .
Dawn: "be sure to keep your chin up - eyes on the top of the arena wall."
Me: "yes, ma'am."
Dawn: "and don't look down and to the inside around the turns - look how it unbalances me - look up and around."
Me: "is that better now?"
Dawn: "that's better - look how nicely I can carry myself from behind when you stay out of my way."
Dawn: "now let's work on our turns - let's start with turns to the left since that's your easiest direction."
Me: "sounds like a plan."
Dawn: "that's pretty good - you're keeping your eyes up, elbows close to your body, and slightly pulling back your left shoulder and opening your left hip - see how that lets me step under with my left hind and stay balanced around the turn."
Me: "that feels pretty good to me."
Dawn: "now let's do some right turns - you'll have to concentrate and try a bit harder since this direction is more difficult for you."
Me: "maybe you can help me solve the problem."
Dawn: "I think I can do that - just listen to me."
Me: "I'm listening."
Dawn: "OK, here's the difference when we turn right. If you drop your right shoulder, instead of pulling it back slightly, it brings your hand too low and elbow out from your body. And if you drop your right hip instead of opening it slightly, that means that you overweight your inside stirrup and even sit a bit harder to the right. All of this means that I have a really hard time bending right since I have to compensate for you by falling to the inside, both in terms of losing my bend and sometimes even coming off the track to the inside. See how important these little things are?"
Me: "I can see the difference in what I'm doing, and how it's changing how you move."
Dawn: "Now concentrate, and see if you can pull your right shoulder back slightly, and open rather than dropping your right hip."
Me: "this is really hard - it feels unnatural since I've done it the other way for so long - but I think I can do it."
Dawn: "and look! now I can bend right perfectly and stay balanced and step under nicely with my right hind."
Me: "wow, that's an amazing difference! Keep reminding me - this is new to me and sometimes I'll slip up and revert to my old ways. But I'm tired - can we track left for a while since that is easier?"
Dawn: "sure, we'll go back to tracking right when you've had a break."
Pretty cool, isn't it - this is just how Dawn and I communicate - I'm very lucky to have her and hope she'll continue to offer me her insights and teaching.