This makes sense. In each test, the horse picks up the new lead quicker and quicker. From those uncomplicated and easy transitions, the horse has to then go from walk to canter to walk at Second Level Test 1. Where's the gradual introduction to the canter from walk like at First Level?
At Second Level Test 1, the canter is picked up from the walk, and then the lead changes are simple ones (through the walk). So it goes walk to canter then a three loop serpentine with changes of lead through walk over the centerline. Yikes. That's a pretty big leap from change of lead through trot.
Everyone says that Second Level is where the rubber meets the road, but now that it's staring me in the face, I am seeing how important perfecting the work at First Level is going to be. And in reality, it doesn't really feel like mastery of First Level is any guarantee that Second Level will come any easier. There's a big jump from the First Level skills to those that are expected at Second.
It's not like we're ready for Second Level anyway, but I am finally at the place where I need to be schooling the next level while I show the current level. With Second Level at least kind of visible on the horizon, I've been asking Speedy to improve his walk to canter transitions, which are getting more and more reliable. I've also been working a few other exercises to help him be able to do the changes of lead at the walk. Here are two of them.
When he recognizes that we're doing the exercise, he knows that I am going to be asking for down transitions which helps him to rock back on his butt a little bit more.
Chemaine had us canter a 20-meter half circle at C on the right lead . As we came through the circle heading towards K, Chemaine had me change the bend before asking for the downward transition to trot. By doing this, Speedy is on the new bend, which makes picking up the left lead easier.
It feels a bit like riding the counter counter though, so I have to really coordinate my aids to get the downward transition to trot. I still sit on my left seat bone, but it's now the the inside seat bone, and my half halting rein becomes the right rein instead of the left.
Right now, I am not being as effective with my seat aids as I need to be for the downward transitions. Speedy and I are both relying too much on my rein aids. For the upward transition to canter, he's getting better and better off my seat.