After having a not-so-great ride late in the week, I was really looking forward to Saturday's ride. I was not disappointed. That boy thrives on good riding. Speedy won't volunteer a thing. You have to be perfect and then pay homage to his royal highness to get anything good from him. With Sydney, get yourself organized, and he is so relieved that he'd peel potatoes for you!
My goal was to practice our canter to trot transitions. It's hard to believe that just a month ago I was begging to even get a right lead canter. Now? I am trying to improve the downward. Shaking head in amazement.
I started with lots of walking, especially with his neck counter bent. Both horses really seem to benefit from this warm up. We track right, but I bend them left. This really helps both boys, especially Speedy, to stretch out that hollow right side.
From there, I spent a few minutes doing the up, up, down exercise. I have to say, my core and lower leg have benefitted ENORMOUSLY from warming up with this exercise. Now that I am so stable in the exercise, I do a lot of different things while I am posting to the up, up, down. I work on slowing and increasing his rhythm, patting his neck in rhythm to the trot, rounding his top line, letting him go long, crossing the diagonal, and so on.
Once Sydney was warmed up, I focused on establishing a good inside bend while tracking right. In the very recent past (like two weeks ago), keeping him "out" on the circle in the open end of the dressage court was a real challenge. Now, I have the skills to keep him out and can even leg yield him farther out than the shape of the circle would dictate.
Our canter departure isn't perfect, but it's there and it's mostly balanced. We're still working on improving the downward transition, but again, it's there without needing to haul back on the reins. What I really liked about Saturday's ride was that while he was tense, his rhythm would quicken, I was still able to ask him to soften and relax, which he did.
Christian Schacht is coming back in late February. We are going to be SO ready for the next lesson!