Five or six weeks ago I was in a Carol Coppinger clinic for Level 3-4. I was waaay over my head, but mostly in a good way, and when they did the finesse part, I could do that. But how much better would my finesse work be, how much better my dressage, if I really get the loose rein stuff, the disengaging stuff, the connections with all the feet?
One of the things Carol said in the clinic that surprised me was that leg doesn't mean to go forward. Really? It always has -- at least two legs used together. Hmmmm. But she shared this story of being with Pat Parelli and him asking her (and presumably other Parelli Professionals) if they could sit on their horses with their arms crossed, reins draped, and disengage their horse's hindquarters so that the horse's head would follow a cow as the cow moved in the arena -- without the horse going forward.
My horses have all equated leg with going forward and so we've been reworking some of that.
So anyway, there we were in the arena, a whole bunch of us, and I'd mostly done my thing and had stopped and was watching some, and in my stop put a leg on to disengage the hind and did not touch the reins. And she moved her hind end around and did not step forward. And it excited me. I whooped a bit and my smart a** male boss said, "Accidents happen I guess."
I told him I was about to say something nasty to him and to channel my inner smart a** female boss at him. And I know he's just being funny. But those thing are always on the square too.
So today I did it again, with my arms crossed and not touching the reins at all. What's more, everything else is improved too. What anyone thinks doesn't matter because I can do it, and I can do it with relationship and finesse and excellence. Or at least, I'm getting there.
The discipline of riding without reins will certainly help you ride in your body.
For those six weeks, I haven't ridden with any contact. Today we also played dressage pony. The contact was the steadiest ever. Everything is improved. By hindquarter yield.