I still don't have a saddle that fits Bourbon, so I took a bareback lesson today with a really great USDF Bronze Medalist dressage rider/trainer/instructor. I've ridden hunters all my life but I really want to event with Bourbon, so I figure we should start with a really strong dressage foundation before moving on to jumping.
I've never had a dressage lesson, so this is all very new to me. Today we worked on walk-trot and trot-walk transitions and bending. She told me to think of Bourbon like a tube of toothpaste. When I want him to do a downward transition, I should tighten my back and ab muscles and squeeze the toothpaste towards his hind end. It made so much sense the way she explained it and Bourbon picked up on what I was asking very quickly. After about 3 tries, I didn't use my hands AT ALL when asking for the downward transitions.
Although it was only a very small step at the beginning of a very long road, I am so excited about this!