Before, when he did a duck and bolt move, he would get all the way across the arena and have time to throw in a few bucks and rears. Now, I can feel it coming, and I can usually catch it before it's much more than a dropped shoulder. Occasionally, he still gets away form me, but I can put him back together quickly, and there's rarely any fear of actually get dumped (although, sometimes …).
So that's what we worked on. Packaging him up tighter and quicker with fewer and fewer unbalanced strides.
The number one rule is that he NEVER, under any circumstances, gets to look to the outside. If we're walking, he's looking to the inside. If we're standing around resting, he's looking to the inside. He does not EVER get to crane his head around to look at ANYTHING. I've got this part down pretty consistently. JL hasn't had to correct that in a while.
The next thing is to really tighten up the left lead canter. There is no more long neck, and I am not holding him up, EVER. He can carry his own weight, and he does not get to be heavy in the bridle EVER. When he even thinks about leaning on me, I give whichever rein he's heavy on a big old swing to say LET IT GO! I am getting pretty good at this, too.
I am just rocking' it, aren't I?
And now we're working on fixing the unevenness in the right lead canter. JL had me approach our trouble in a new way. We've been working on small circles to get him to let go and bend, but the transition to the canter has not followed well. Instead, she had me separate the two issues: getting an inside bend is separate from a canter departure.
That really helped me see this as two different issues. As we prepare for the right lead canter, if he's heavy on the inside rein, I can't get an inside bend which also means that I've lost the outside connection because if I try to use the outside rein, nothing is going to go through to the outside hind. It's a little bit of a case of the chicken and the egg. I can't get an inside bend, and I can't use the outside rein effectively.
So when he won't bend, I insist on an inside bend by really flexing him and moving him sideways. Before Monday, I was just trying to move his hindquarters away. We were effectively doing a turn not the forehand. JL had me think of moving his shoulders out instead while keeping his inside hind in. Then he'll truly be bent around my inside leg.
To get a feel for the movement. She had me do a turn on the haunches to the left while keeping Sydney's neck bent to the right. It was hard! At first, he simple backed up, but with some persistence, he finally stepped to the left while keeping a bend to the right.
So. My homework now is to try to pick up a right lead canter with an inside bend without his hind end drifting out all over the place!