Little stinker …
So right now, I KNOW he is saying, "enough of this Izzy business, let's get back to SPEEDY dressage …"
We had a very interesting lesson on Monday night. JL reminded me that Speedy knows the canter cue, but now we need to improve the canter. He gets the correct lead every time, but what he doesn't want to do is push off with his inside hind leg. He wants to claw his way into the canter and then run off. This is not pretty and it definitely won't get us to Second Level. [OMG … we just made it to First Level and look at me, I already have us moving up again. Don't get too cocky there, Sweaney]
JL's suggestion is to first get him in front of my leg. Don't worry about how he looks or where his head is … get his butt moving. Once he is active behind, I can start working on slowing down the front end so that it matches the hind legs. This is easier said than done.
After a number of attempts, I finally felt what she was talking about. If he's leaning on me, he can't roll into the canter. If he's sucking back, he can't pick up a nice canter either. My task is to get him right in the middle. So that's what we worked on: me developing a good feeling for the right trot.
Once Speedy was actively forward, I couldn't stop him from picking up a balanced canter. He's so dang smart that once he figured out what we were doing, he kept offering the canter instead of waiting for me to cue him. Again, he's a stinker!
That's all tracking left. To the right is another story. It is really hard to get Speedy on the outside, left rein. He really wants to hollow out his left side and throw his haunches out. JL had me tackle that problem by having him crab into the circle (Thanks, Sydney - you taught me how to ride that!) while softening the inside rein.
To be successful at First Level, our canter work really needs to get better. Both JL and Chemaine think out trot work is coming along nicely. Now, the canter is on my must master list. I think we're getting there!