That's what my husband says, that dressage is about holding one's pinkie at exactly the right attitude; that horses, like cars, are about getting from here to there not trotting in circles, etc. Most of the time he means it in fun, sometimes in earnest. It is fine. I don't find it within myself to explain why dressage makes every horse better. But it does.
So today I had a glowing sort of lesson in which things went really really well and I suppose my pinkie was at the exact correct angle or something. Or I was holding my mouth right. I shouted out in the middle of the lesson, "I love you Lisa!", that's how good it was.
Partly it is about instruction. "When her head comes up, sit taller, open your chest," and you know what? It works. Simple as that. I can think it to myself a lot but it helps to have other eyes. I can also forget it a lot in the working on something or the other else.
But it is also about time in the tack. For awhile there I felt very inefficient, ineffective at taking instruction, and I think that was about the need to just ride, to feel. To a great extent, the horse and the riding will put you there. I personally don't think there is any instructional substitute for getting on and riding, playing, experimenting. Laying down on your horse's neck while he meanders through a field; sliding down a creek bank without sliding over his ears, or bounding up it without dismounting the way Zorro mounts; that sort of thing.
So I'm getting past the instruction making everything worse I think. I went through that sort of deal my first three months at MM. Ah, but then we got to the good part and it was so much fun.
What happened in the lesson? Well, kind of the usual, try to keep the rhythm at working walk to free walk to working walk to halt to working walk, trot at first stinks than gets much better, try to keep the rhythm at trot (and this is when she'll be a bit inconsistent trying to anticipate maybe I want to stop now? No? Now? No . . . and I have to stretch up, stretch the legs down) and we did figure eights changing the bend and trying to work off that inside leg (especially that left leg . . . if she gets that she can go left and bend left that is going to be so beautiful), and then a trotting figure eight to a canter transition. She almost fell down during the first canter left, no idea why. So we did another left and it was better (I still have to remember allow forward), and then right was just almost beautiful and we stopped there.
I said the "I love you" thing when there was just a moment of everything being right, when that bit of instruction fixed things for a moment and it was all there. I love that there is always more to riding, more to learn, more to do, forty-eleven things to think about all at once; but I also love those moments when it is all there, when that pinkie is exactly right.