My trainer also has the week off which means we often change up the lesson schedule to accommodate our vacation plans; my regular Monday lesson is on Wednesday this week.
Since Speedy had just come home after three days away and two days of showing, he got to sit out last Monday's lesson; Sydney, waiting on deck, got called up. Sydney only goes for a lesson about every 4 - 6 weeks; I've talked about this quite a lot. He and I just need more time to develop the skill that JL has lined out for us. This works out well as Speedy does great with a weekly lesson.
JL was quite impressed with Sydney's left lead canter work. There is zero tension in his body when he tracks left. He's soft and relatively balanced. I can move him around at both the trot and canter without any fear of him bolting or rearing. He actually has a really nice left lead canter. He gives me a perfect place to sit and wants to be uphill all on his own.
The right lead canter is a different story. This is his hollow side. JL said long ago that the hollow side is the more difficult side to ride because there is nothing to push on. I finally see what she means. He wants to collapse on this side and fall into the circle. I've been working really hard on moving him OUT, OUT, OUT, but it hasn't been getting me anywhere.
Instead of making the circle larger, JL had me make the circle quite small. Doh! That's Michael Schaeffer's Perfect Circle; the one I've been doing with Speedy to teach him to bend his stiff side. I never though to use it for a hollow horse. Once I made the circle small, I had something to push against. And if I made the circle small enough, Sydney wanted to move out on the circle.
We did this exercise at the canter. I used an opening inside rein to keep his neck bent, but kept an even feel in my outside rein. As soon as he started to soften in the bend and want to move out on the circle, I felt him fill out my outside rein in a very satisfying way. Once he was willingly moving away from my inside leg, I could then use my outside leg to "catch" him and bring him back to a small circle.
I worked on this exercise several times over the week and am really pleased with how much better his right lead canter is getting. He always picks up the correct lead, but doing it without falling in is our goal.
This Easter vacation came at the perfect time for us. I now have a full week to work on his right lead canter in preparation for his first show of the year! We "tried" to do Intro A and B in September and at a Ride-a-Test in October, but for both attempts he was so tense that we didn't accomplish anything. I am hopeful that I now have a better understanding of how to work him through his tense moments. My entry is in the mail for a schooling show at HDEC where I've signed us up for Intro C and Training Level Test 1.
The show is April 7. I am hoping to round up a friend to go with me as I think a bit of ground support would help Sydney be more relaxed. Anyone want to go to HDEC?