Sigh, the mirror doesn't lie
So, last week I moved my horse to a new barn. For the first time ever, we have access to an indoor arena. It has several mirrors along one wall, so you can take a peek every now and then and see your progress. Yesterday while I was in riding, a woman came in with a 4 year old OTTB. It was clear to see that she had a lot of riding and probably training experience from the moment she mounted. I watched her ride this horse in a nice round forward frame which I didn't even think a 4 year old could do. The horse was absolutely floating.
Anyway, after awhile of working my horse and watching her work hers, I dared to take a peek in the mirror and see how we measured up. While my horse was reaching for the bit and tracking up to some degree, my reins were still a mile long and flopping with each head bob. I probably could have shortened 3"s or more to get to a proper length. I was not amused at what I saw and really want to fix it.
I could easily make the excuses that her horse has a much better conformation for dressage (which she seriously does) and she's a better rider, but she just got this horse a month ago and she looks fantastic. Clearly I am simply not asking enough of my horse and I am currently not a very effective rider. We got all 5's & 6's on our last dressage test which confirms we're just doing enough to get by. I'm going to be taking my first lesson with the new trainer later this week, but was just curious about how to begin addressing this. Do I simply take up those 3" and tell my horse to deal with it, go back to lunging until he can carry himself better without me on him, or something in between? I know he can move the way that little mare was moving by the way he trots like a big stuffed rooster when we're out trail riding. It's beautiful. I just need to figure out how to produce it when we're working.
Please, I don't need any propping up. This isn't self bashing. No excuses. I just need a plan to start fixing it.
You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.