Here's how it goes ...
I shorten Speedy's reins, a lot. I keep my elbows bent which helps me to use my back and core more effectively. From the walk or the trot, I ask Speedy for a slow motion canter.
Here's where it's not so pretty. Speedy can give me the slow canter, but he's not yet strong enough to round his neck and lift his withers, which means he's cantering around with his head jacked up pretty high. I know he's using his hind end though because I can feel it. I can also hear it. His canter gets really rhythmical and super quiet.
To the left, he is stronger and has more power, but he can't get as round. To the right, he's weaker but more supple, so with enough half halting on my part, he does get round and pretty.
Once he is cantering with a slow motion feel, and that's even what I chant to myself as we circle around ... slow motion ... slow motion ... , I ride straight toward the pole without letting him speed up. The point to the exercise is to maintain the rhythm up to the pole, over the pole, and most importantly, after the pole.
Our changes weren't perfect, which shows me how heavy Speedy still is, especially on the left rein. Changing from right to left is pretty easy for him because he already prefers that lead.
Our first show of the season won't be until late May, so I am trying to focus on the requirements of the level rather than any specific movements from the tests. Getting a more collected canter will help us in our 15-meter canter circles, the counter canter, and in the change of lead through trot. Next up is to get a better lengthening of stride in the trot work.
One day at a time ...