After bitching and kvetching about my lack of right bend and right hind engagement, I told trainer that I wanted to just focus on getting the correct bend and engagement for my dressage lesson. And man, it was thrilling.
I explained my problems to B at the start of the lesson. Murray doesn’t want to bend right, or track up with his right hind, and I can kinda feel him poking his right hind to the inside tracking right, up until the moment I get so sick of it that I push him over too hard, and then he fishtails his haunches all the way around until he’s having the opposite problem, but I don’t even know what a real 20m or 15m bend should feel like, especially to the right, and my body is all weird to the right anyway, and so could she please just fix us?
We started on a 20 meter circle, and our problem was pretty apparent. Funny that Murray does it more on a 20 than a 15. Geometry was also a problem, but that wasn’t that important. I stayed at least 2 meters away from the walls at all times to avoid Murray getting glued to them, which only exacerbates our problems. B had me shrink the circle down to a 15 and put Murray together a bit more, and Murray really groaned with the effort. B also had push Murray into the left rein (especially to help avoid the left-rein evasive maneuvers he loves), and then consistently apply my outside leg every few strides to keep his haunches from floating too far out. It wasn’t perfectly consistent, but we definitely had moments where we weren’t haunches-in and weren’t haunches-out and all four legs were tracking up in the same space. It felt like everything I had hoped and dreamed!!
After getting Murray bent correctly on a 15, B had me move back out to the 20 meter circle and give the reins so that Murray could stretch out his outline a bit more. Not quite a real stretchy trot (though we could go there if we wanted to), but something a little less packaged. Interestingly, Murray was more capable of bending when he stretched his neck and body a little more.
We did the same thing at the canter, which was especially hard for Murray. His canter has somehow become simultaneous slow and flat and hideous and a garbage dump… I might be overreacting a little, but damn, Murray thinks it is sooooo hard to be round and canter at the same time. Like, impossible. The most impossiblest thing. You don’t even know.
But with plenty of outside leg and a few cow kicks we managed to get it done, and then when I let Murray stretch out a little more on a larger circle he was happy to bend himself correctly.
The ride after my lesson I tried Megan‘s suggestion and picked up a shoulder-in at the walk and transitioned to trot, and then pushed Murray up and down within the gait to find out where it broke down. Going left we were pretty solid, actually — which was fascinating! Poor Murray will be subject to a little more shoulder-in with transitions in the future — but tracking right Murray wiggled in almost all phases of the shoulder-in: walk and trot, medium and collected. I actually had to boot his body back on to the line of travel as he tried to leg-yield towards the beloved wall instead of doing a shoulder-in. I got a pretty magnificent GHHHUUURHHH from him when I booted him, but it didn’t break his concentration and he took it pretty well.
At dressage camp MIL told me that Murray will always have a weaker side, and I will always have to ride movements on that side more precisely, which makes me sad. I wish that I could make Murray’s right side as strong as his left and never have to worry about it again. But even though it may never be as strong as his left side, he is getting stronger. Albeit…. slowly.