To the left … we are definitely onto something, and I am really grateful for that. I have been blogging about Sydney since the summer of 2011, and for most of that time, getting a decent left lead canter has been a challenge, never mind the right.
Yesterday, he showed me that his left lead canter is now part of his training; that button is definitely installed. With JL's help, Sydney can now canter in an uphill frame without being heavy in my hand. I can send him forward and bring him back without him losing his balance. He can also do a stretchy canter without rushing and falling on his nose. I have a lot to be proud of.
After we did our work to the left, I asked for a change of direction and went back to suppling him at the walk. I also firmed up the outside rein and "crabbed" to the right. He was all bent out of shape, which is why he couldn't get a right lead canter the night before. I am not sure how we've gotten so out of alignment, but it took a few minutes of work to reposition his haunches behind his shoulders.
Once he was "straight," which actually feels really crooked, we picked up a teeny tiny little trot. Traveling straight was hard for him. Before too long, I felt his body relax and his stride lengthened. We continued to trot until I started to feel him offering a right lead canter. His first "offer" caught me by surprise, and I half halted before I realized I should have gone with it. Once I rebalanced him, I asked for the right lead canter, and while it was a bit wild and woolly, he did give it.
Once he was cantering quietly, I let him walk for a bit. I really wanted to end on a good note, but I felt that I needed to get a second canter departure to build on the quiet canter he had just given me. I asked him to a pick up a trot, and while he was a bit tense, he was still able to go forward, unlike the day before. When I cued for the canter, there was a bit of an explosion, but he got the correct lead. I had to really saw on the reins to keep him from bolting off, but he did get soft for a few strides before charging forward again. No matter. I took a strong hold and within a minute he was cantering in rhythm without charging through my hands.
I definitely called it a day with that. Today, I hope to get the canter with less drama. I have another lesson on Monday, so I am hoping JL can help me figure out where the tension is coming from this time.