When I told my trainer about my "epiphany," she just laughed and said that in a way it was a brand new concept. She said it has to do with the whole right brain/left brain thing (a topic on which science does not yet have agreement). One side of my brain (probably the logical) has heard this all before; the right side (creative side) finally connected the right neurons and viola, a whole new concept was understood!
For whatever reason (I seem to say that a lot), Sydney was not so Captain Awesome over the weekend. He wanted to rush, be heavy, spook, run off … you name it. I was actually glad for all of his shenanigans because it gave me an opportunity to work on that kind of crap in preparation for shows and clinics.
He was particularly naughty on Sunday, but I stuck to my guns. When he wanted to rush, I planted both hands firmly on my bucking strap, and I used as much leg as I could to send him sideways. I don't feel the need to pull back anymore, but it takes a lot of core strength to send him sideways without letting him pull me forward. My puny little biceps were flat out bulging!
We did quite a few leg yields from the quarter line to H to C to down the next quarter line to F and back to A, all on the right bend. I just kept at it until he finally realized that he was getting nowhere fast. We took a walk break, and then I decided to work on that right lead canter.
It was perfectly awful, but in a perfect way! As I prepared for the canter departure, the sequence of aids literally presented themselves in my mind so clearly that I felt as though they were original thoughts. It seemed so simple: I didn't shorten my reins. I sat up. I cued him for the canter by scooping with my seat while holding that outside rein firm.
I'd like to say that he simply rolled into a lovely canter, but he didn't. But what was great, was that I kept him packaged together until his legs finally got going in the right rhythm. He tried to snatch the outside rein, but I simply held it firmly while while sending him sideways with my inside leg. He had nowhere else to go but forward into the canter, and I actually felt him lift into it.
While none of our efforts were perfect, I finally get what needs to happen to get that lovely canter departure we've been aiming for. And best of all, I didn't feel any sense of being out of control.