When she was here in December, everything was about the stretch down - for both horses. For Speedy, it was about getting him deeper and rounder making room for a "give." When he lightened up, I could then send him forward into a lengthened stride. With Izzy, the stretch down was to help him loosen his topline so that we could get a relaxed stride.
Over the last two months, we were able to apply those concepts so thoroughly that both boys were ready for much more.
The Leg Yield
I am pretty sick of not having this thing right, but Chemaine was able to help me fine tune some parts of the leg yield. Speedy gets pretty sticky off my left leg, so we fixed that with some walk to TROT! transitions. Then, Chemaine worked on my technique. First, she pointed out that I've been allowing Speedy to drift into the leg yield, something that beginner horses might need to do. Speedy is no longer a beginner.
Turn on the Forehand
Prepare for a headache. This is not the turn on the forehand done like a leg yield. This is a turn on the forehand half pass style. This exercise is about controlling the haunches when your horse wants to let them drift. Speedy likes to do a lot of drifting!
To do this exercise, walk forward a few steps in shoulder in. Push the haunches in so that the horse is in a comma shape. Now, send the horse's haunches around the forehand into the bend.
To do a turn on the haunches, you will keep your horse in the same bend as before, like a comma. Only this time, you will send the front legs around the hind end, also into the bend. To keep the horse from walking forward, open your outside hand and bring it straight back as you half halt.
Speedy and I worked really hard on the walk to canter transition over the past two months, and while it's not a perfect transition, it's pretty neat and tidy.
To help with the canter immediately following the departure, Chemaine had me get him softer and rounder right away. In December, Speedy would sit, but then there was no push off forward so I let him get long just to get him going. Now that he can sit and push forward, Chemaine wants him to stay collected from the push off through the canter strides. That was easy to clean up.
And then we put it all together! This exercise was the most fun, but it will leave your head spinning. To get the walk from canter, I was putting Speedy into a haunches in and spiraling down until he was really sitting on his hind end. We could get the walk, but it was clunky.
Chemaine encouraged me to get the haunches in, but then canter a few more strides before walking. Speedy quickly learned that haunches in meant walk, but later, when we canter haunches in, I don't want him to think about walking. We cleaned that up as well.
For the simple change - walk to canter to walk, Chemaine brought back the turn on the forehand. As we cantered our circle, she wanted Speedy to hold the haunches in through the halt even though he knew we were going to change the bend and canter off in the other direction.
By the end of the lesson, I was able to pretty effectively keep Speedy's hind end where I wanted it. Of course, if your horse holds the haunches in, simply change the bend, walk forward to straighten the horse, and pick up the new lead.