What does roundness feel like? How do you describe it?
I don't know if I've ever felt a truly round horse. (Remember, horse and I are very new to dressage, and I've never ridden a true dressage horse.)
I have been able to get his nose vertical occasionally, which I believed was round.
Yesterday we used draw reins for the first time (first for me, first for horse) for about 15 minutes until I got overheated and had to stop. Trainer wanted me to be able to get rounder faster without being so busy with my hands trying to get there so that I could FEEL roundness.
Today when I was so pleased that horse's nose was vertical when we first walked into the arena, trainer broke it to me kindly that there is fake round and real round, and today I was going to learn the difference. What I watch trainer do is real round, and what I do is fake round. I get it...because I have to look in the mirror to see if his nose is vertical, but his body hasn't felt any different. So "feeling" roundness hasn't worked...because he hasn't been round.
No draw reins today. Was doing lots of transitions, serpentines, 10-meter circles, etc. after warm up versus our standard 20 m circles and changing across diagonal. Was doing a left 10 m trot circle in corner by H, and suddenly horse put his head lower, and by the way he felt, I was 100% convinced he was going to buck. (Has never bucked with a rider.) I freaked a bit (ok a lot but only in my mind) and while trainer was telling me to use my left leg and push him into it and keep going, I instead turned right and trotted toward F and safety (aka trainer). Trainer told me that THAT was round. What I was feeling was not pre-buck, but was his back coming up and his head lower and round. Real round, not my fake round. I know I did the wrong thing but we fixed it once I knew what I was feeling and realized that he had no intention of bucking.
The rest of the lesson was amazing, and he was "real" round...we did lots of 10 m circles and even leg yields into canter (I've done just a few leg yields before). It was a BLAST. But he did feel different-not strong different like I felt right before the show-but like his legs were more under him. Trainer was very pleased and said this is what real round feels like, and no more fake round for us. I smiled through the whole lesson. Leg yields! So cool.
I love that horse and I are learning this together. It may not be the ideal way, but it's what we're doing. If trainer rode him solely for a few months and I rode a different horse, I would probably be afraid of the new power of my horse as he progresses, so I need to keep up. But I think this is the first time he's been truly round with me. We also worked on my allowing his shoulders to really move (I was much less busy with my hands because I wasn't going after the fake round). How do you describe "real" roundness? Other than the "he's going to buck" feeling, what does it feel like?
What else is trainer going to spring on me? (trainer is awesome and knows just how much to put on me at a time) :) I love this sport. Every time I think that I "get" something, OMG I'm just more aware of just how much there is left to learn!! I'm glad there is no end point, no graduation, etc. I don't ever want to stop learning!