I know it sounds like Sydney is getting all of the attention right now, but he's not. Speedy has been getting his fair share of saddle time, too. Early in July, JL suggested that I give Speedy a break in August. Originally it was because I was very frustrated with him, and I needed a break away from him. As it turned out, whatever little thing that had been between us, slowly melted away and our friendship was re-established. So rather than give him the month off, we've been just playing.
While I ride, I've been really focusing on feeling for whether he is balanced or not. And since I am focusing on balance, I am not really working on any particular element of a test. If he wants to trot, I just try to help him be as balanced as possible. The same is true if he wants to canter. Go for it, dude, but let's be really balanced. This has helped him enjoy the work because I am not working on anything specific.
Tracking right into a corner is one place that he struggles with balance. I can tell because that's where he'll pop his head up. To help him, I've been increasing the bend as we head into the corners, pushing his inside hind leg in as much as possible, and even slowing down into the corner when necessary.
He's getting more and more balanced and seems to appreciate the support. At least, that's what it feels like as he is less resentful and happier in his work. I suspect that the reason the right lead canter has been more difficult is because he is not as balanced tracking right.
While riding on Wednesday afternoon, I was having some trouble getting a balanced left lead canter. Before (as in before we started having fun), I would just repeat the circle over and over asking for the left lead canter until we were both pissed at each other, and I wanted to hang up a for sale sign while Speedy wanted adoption papers.
Instead, I stopped asking and did a couple of leg yields off the left leg. We came down centerline and leg yielded to M twice. The second time we got to M, I pushed him into the corner, came by C, asked him to go deep into the next corner and then scooped ever so gently with me seat. Viola! Left lead canter.
Oh, my goodness! You should have seen the look on his face. He knew he'd been played. I could tell he was wondering how in the holy heck that I had tricked him into getting such a quiet transition. We made one circle, and I called it a day. It was a pretty hot afternoon, 97 ℉, and we had been working for a while. Hot or not, just getting that transition was enough to earn an end to the work.
I can't wait to do more this weekend. Enjoy your Labor Day holiday. See you all tomorrow.