She addressed a few very important things. For starters, the rider's position is key. During this ride, I learned I have elbows and I should be using them. If I didn't maintain my elbows by my sides, I fussed with the reins and the horse was very opposed to this (its because my elbows were in front of my body which weakened my position). He inverted his neck which was the opposite of what I was looking for. This was a good visual! Not to mention I wasn't as strong as I could be in the saddle. Also, she stated one needs to be strong in their core. As strong as I thought I was, I have more work to do. Core strength and elbows go together.
She reinforced the concept of riding the big body parts. So many dressage riders (me included!) focus on the horse's head/neck. The problem doesn't stem from the neck but everything else that is behind it. The horse must be straight through his body to allow the energy and power to go from the engine (hind end) to the hand. My idea of straightness before did not encompass all of the horse's body parts- mainly just the neck. Once I was able to gain control of the shoulders and make his body straight, everything became easy...and it was an amazing feeling!
Although she didn't say this in these exact words, I understood her take home message to be as follows: 1) Be strong in your core and correct in your position, 2) Always ride forward, and 3) the Horse must be straight. The rest will be easy. I am already looking forward to the next lesson. :)