Since my trainer/equestrian fairy godmother is currently out of commission for a bit as she has just brought a tiny human into the world, Chance's person suggested that she and I take a lesson with her former Pony Club instructor, who would be in town for a bit. Since I trust her judgement I agreed, and we had quite a productive lesson!
Guest Trainer asked me to just warm up how I normally would and she would jump in with suggestions as she watched us go. I gave her the basic rundown of where Dino and I are at right now, and commenced with the walking/beating him when he pretended to not know what leg means. She noticed that he is not laterally supple and has a lot of very expressive ways to let everyone know that he is Displeased with having to work. We worked a bit on tweaking my position to be taller in my upper body and lighter in my seat, and noticing how that changed the way Dino moved. I really liked her approach there in using rider position fixes to adjust the horse's way of going, and helping make me aware of the differences.
After trotting around a bit and getting Dino slightly more forward and bendy, we started working on the grid, which would be the focus of the ride.
It began with three trot poles, which we rode over a few times in an analytical mindset. With each pass over the poles, Guest Trainer would ask me about how my position was, how Dino was traveling, and how the way I rode affected how he trotted through the exercise. What we determined was that the lighter my seat and the tighter my leg, the more Dino swung through his back and all the way to his tail when negotiating the poles. He needed space to get the job done and use is body, not constant activity from my seat! This is the story of my life. I will pay to take this same lesson forever and ever, with every trainer, amen.
We quickly built the grid up to a crossrail-vertical bounce to an 18' one-stride. It was fun to be able to build things up right away for Dino since he's an old pro and wouldn't be surprised by anything like greener Chance was, and he really seemed to enjoy the challenge of the ever-changing line of jumps. He was jumping like a boss, however my recent lack of focus on rider fitness as it pertains to jumping position was quickly discovered by the astute visiting trainer.
My base of support, it seems, is not as strong as it could be! I found myself getting majorly left behind at various points in the grid, and unable to relinquish my control-freak version of an auto release in favor of resting my knuckles in his mane to give my pony more freedom to use his neck in the air.
It was a struggle, y'all.
But we kept at it, jumping through the ever-morphing grid that at various points included trotting right in over an oxer, one stride to three bounce fences, and a bounce-one stride-bounce combination. It was fun and challenging to focus solely on my own position for the first time in a long time, and it was definitely useful to have the gaps in my riding revealed by someone new to me.
We finished up with an encouraging chat about how I need to just trust Dino to jump, and trust my own leg to tell him to do so without doing crazy control-freak things with my seat or riding super defensively. I appreciated how quickly and accurately our guest lecturer pinned down my issues. She suggested putting myself into 2-point boot camp, and if I could, taking a lesson on a very honest school horse to jump through grids and work on my position and stability, preferably without hands. I think both suggestions are on-point, and will at the very least start working more in 2-point on a daily basis.
I've got a bottle of Advil on standby.