I share this because I was pretty sure Mr. Hyde was going to be waiting for me in the barn when I arrived. Late afternoons are also enough to change my normally willing Dr. Jekyll into his alter ego. Cold weather combined with the waning daylight and two days off should have given me a danger, Will Robinson! pause. But it didn't.
By the time we got back to A, he was ready to work. I squeezed him forward into a trot, asking him to swing and relax his neck. He decided to brace and hurry so I kept JL's words in mind, more inside rein and think about getting a bend.
I shortened my reins, flexed him to the inside, and pushed him out away from my inside leg. I focused on keeping a solid contact on both reins, especially the inside, without letting there be gaps in the conversation. And all of a sudden I knew we should canter. I asked, and he lurched to the inside, but I straightened him back up and repackaged him. I asked again, and he stepped into the right lead canter without any problems. I gave a huge cheer and rode a few 20-meter circles before asking for a downward transition.
That was really huge for us. I could feel that he was put together enough to make the upward transition, and I put him there!
I let him walk for a moment as we changed direction. Then we picked up a trot, but I could feel that he was heavy on that outside rein so I started in on the hard halt. I asked for a left lead canter, and halted hard. We picked up the trot and then the canter and then halted hard. Within just a minute or two, Sydney knew that he needed to let go of that outside rein.
The next time I asked for a halt, I just sat deeply and he slammed on the breaks. Yah! We took a couple of walk steps forward, and I cued for the canter. He gave the most awesome hop into the canter from that one or two walk steps.
The best part of the exercise was that his neck and head were way in the air, but I didn't care! I wasn't working on a rounded top line, I was asking him to lighten up off that outside rein, which he did beautifully! A few more days of that and he'll be lowering his head and neck where they need to be because I won't need to hard halt him. Seriously, I was ecstatic over the work he did for me.
I know this isn't very dressagy, but it's working for us. Once he's a bit better schooled to my aids, I can get more subtle with their use. JL calls these kind of aids crude, but sometimes it's what needs to be done. Either way, I was VERY happy with what he did for me. Santa might be ready to deliver that right lead canter before Christmas!