The canter is much easier to collect as it has more suspension. Right now, I can get Speedy soft and round in the trot work, but it comes at the expense of FORWARD. When I can get him in front of my leg, we lose a lot of the roundness. It's something I definitely need help with.
If you've been following along for any length of time, you already know that I ride once a month or so with Chemaine Hurtado, the owner and trainer of Symphony Dressage Stables, based in Moorpark. I would ride with her more often, but it's a little more than two hours to her barn which makes a weekly lesson a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately for me, Chemaine is always working to stay connected with clients via social media. She has a great YouTube channel where she posts instructional videos. In her newest offering, she demonstrates two of her warm up exercises that are suitable for green beans all the way to horses at the grand prix.
I decided that all I wanted was lateral flexion. How supple could I really get him? The first few minutes were not so pretty, but little by little, Speedy really started to get flexible. Before he knew it, we were doing some decent leg yields as I asked for softness on the inside rein.
I moved on to 10-meter circles and shoulder in, again focusing on suppleness to the inside rein. I asked him to go back and forth between 10-meter half circles and full circles. When we did the half circles, I focused on keeping him soft on the inside rein by doing Chemaine's 1-2-3-4 count as we made the switch to the other half circle.
By the time we moved on to the change of canter lead through trot, Speedy was super supple through his neck and poll. We always get the change of lead, but sometimes I have to use a very heavy hand to bounce him off the old bend and onto the new one. For this ride, he easily gave me the new bend.
Part of the problem is that I know what I want from Speedy: big movement that's uphill, but I am probably just expecting too much too soon too quickly. I think I am going to focus on suppleness with moderate forwardness for now. When I see Chemaine in a week or so, maybe she can help me get closer to that bigger movement that really comes from behind.
Until then, we'll just keep chipping away at it all.