I rode with N last night in the big arena, sans jumps. Gives us a nice big space and fewer spookified moments (although he spooked EVERY.DAMN.TIME. we rode by the jump poles laying outside the fence). We have had lovely riding weather until the past three days. Colorado finally realized it was August and turned up the heat. N and I did a couple of walking laps of warm up, chatting and enjoying ourselves.
Then we started trotting and I discovered Ashke was keeping his head low and his back lifted for most of the ride. When he collapses out of collection, from being tired I expect, all I needed to do was raise my hand and gently bump my inside leg for him to move back up under himself. N said he looked awesome and now I just need to work at getting off his face as soon as he brings himself to that position. (I shouldn't hold him there - just ask him to hold himself there).
We also cantered a couple of times and that is when I had my insight. At the canter, I am drawing up my legs and trying to hold myself on with my calves.
Ta-da! Light bulb moment. I am trying to ride bareback in a saddle. When you ride bareback (without a pad) you draw your legs in at the canter, squeezing with your calves along their barrel. It is much easier to do on a narrow horse, then on a wide one, but one can acheive a secure seat that way. At least I could when I was younger.
Now, however, it is causing me to perch on the saddle, lose contact with Ashke and sort of flop along, mostly because my legs can't find a solid connection with Ashke's sides. And no, I have no desire to try it bareback to see, thank you very much. My wild Indian days are long behind me. No, what I have to do is teach myself to ride and balance with my legs down, heels down, weight in the stirrups. At a canter.