When I school Speedy now, he no longer has his nose poking into the air or rooting forward as he jerks me out of the saddle. He's learning to accept the bit, even though he's not ON the bit. Last summer his mission was to get his head as far up into the air as possible to do anything except for what I was asking. Collecting clouds instead of his body was what he was all about.
We can now ride a decent oval-like circle, sometimes 18 meters, sometimes 28 meters, but at least it's round. Last summer we didn't even ride a shape, unless a zig-zag counts.
Now I can post the correct diagonal and can almost always tell if I'm wrong. And what I find rather impressive is that when we return to the trot from a canter, I am usually on the correct diagonal when I start posting. I am not sure how that is happening! I have a funny video of a test that I rode last summer in which I spent half of the test looking at Speedy's shoulder to see if I was on the correct diagonal! For the second test that I rode that day, Cha-Ching's mom advised me to forget about my diagonal and just focus on the test. The video shows that I got the diagonals correct after following her directions.
So, getting my diagonals correct without having to stare at Speedy's shoulder is kind of a big deal ... to me, anyway.
I can also move Speedy over with my seat and legs and can usually slow down his rhythm by holding my core still. He will also halt at the walk just by tightening my core. When he gets "racey," which he does when we're practicing canter transitions, I still have to count in my head, oooooooooone, twwwwwwwwwwwo, ooooooooooooone, twwwwwwwwoe. These long "ones" and "twos" help me focus on slowing down my posting which in turns brings him back to a more rhythmical trot.
Last summer we just zoomed around while I just hung on. Although, it probably looked more like careening rather than zooming. Neither one is very welcome in a dressage test.
At my last lesson we worked on giving the correct cue for the canter transition (inside leg at the girth, outside leg cues behind the girth). Last night Speedy really jumped into the canter when I applied the outside leg. It wasn't perfect, but it was much sharper than two weeks ago. I am also able to get a few balanced canter strides from him where he is actually holding himself up.
And one of the things I'm most proud of is that he can do a stretchy trot circle. It's not very good yet as I have to really move my hands A LOT (will definitely lose rider points for that!), but at least he stretches down and doesn't bolt! And ... it's also not really a circle, yet. We're back to the zig-zag. Knowing how we changed that at the working trot, I feel pretty confident that we can get it at the stretchy trot.
So ... compared to where we were, I am really pleased with where we are and very excited to see where we can go!
Totally off the subject - I probably won't be able to post again until Sunday as Hubby and I have out of town plans. Most of you will probably enjoy the quiet. I am not saying that I talk a lot, I'm just sayin' ...