Firstly, Greta has been her usual snuggle-bunny-but-opinionated self lately. Opinionated. Snuggle. Bunny. All you mare lovers will understand I'm sure :)
Ever since being enlightened on stretching your horse to the bit by L, both Greta and Odin have improved significantly over the past few days. Odin was never taught to stretch when he was initially trained 4+ years ago (or canter, eep!) and I don't think the concept was even touched upon when breaking him to ride before L got him. So stretching is a MUST for the Ponymonster. And it seems to be helping him. While he doesn't have the flexibility to reach all the way down, I've noticed his neck will get longer as he reaches for the bit, and I definitely feel contact. He looks more like a dart shooting for the board most of the time, but, by gosh, he can stretch!
As for Greta: va va voom! Yes, I said that. I go once around the arena on a loose rein, then make her stretch for the bit, then pick up contact... and she doesn't hike her head up and have to ease into the bit. She takes it up lightly and nicely and it just looks gorgeous. After some trotting, then we go down to walk she'll hollow, but I ask her to stretch again and she works back to bit just fine. Her eye looks soft, as if she's thinking, "Oh! Okay! Thanks for making this whole riding nonsense easier, Bre."
Greta already stretches nicely (the first and ONLY show we went to, while we got 3s and 4s on everything bahaha... we got 7s on the free walk.... the girl can work it!) but these exercises help to keep the ADHD Pony focused (and boy do they, thank God) and I know for sure she's reaching for the bit and rounding out her back. Her back keeps get wider and flatter (and not in a fatty way) and her upper neck muscles that are connected to her spine (the muscles along the upper neck base, I suppose) bulge when I ask for contact, her lower neck that used to be overdeveloped is now relaxed and loose when I ride her and it is slimming up, the part of her topline that connects to the withers is keeps developing ever so slightly and hopefully will only get better, and she is no longer bent at the 3rd vertebrae! I could still kill myself for that...... but I don't need to because I learned from my mistake and I am definitely fixing it :)
I just need video, just to show off haha. I also need to do more cavaletti work again. AND I need to keep reminding myself that dressage is a slow process, should not be rushed, and that (as dressage Confucius says) the rider who takes their time will be richly rewarded with a superb and happy horse and a strong bond.
Oh, I do love dressage, darling.
P.S. Greta needs yet an even wider "gullet" on her Wintec. Medium-wide is still too narrow. I was able to finally actually measure Greta with the Magikal Measuring Gauge and it told me she was wide, which freaked me out because I was thinking "WHAT?! WIDE? L, is she fat? Does she need to lose weight?" And I was told that the Wintec gauge goes by their own measuring system and no where near your typical saddle tree sizing system, because if it did, then Greta would probably still be in the medium range haha. So, a wide we got and I cannot wait to try it this week when it ships in. Thank you Stateline Tack for always being reliably fast!
And thank you G for putting up with all of Greta's expensive shananigans (new halter, a tail bag for her thinning tail - NOT THE TAIL! - and more saddle fixin's).