We continued our canter to the right with Speedy's nose on the fence, but we worked at refining the exercise while keeping him from either running through the left (outside) shoulder or ignoring my right leg (inside). That canter down the long side is hard. Or rather, cantering down the long side straight is hard.
To prepare for this exercise, JL had me start to the left in order to get him moving away from my left leg. There's one little spot in the arena where he consistently falls into my leg. JL had me make the circle smaller right before that space and then MOVE him over. Once we made the circle smaller, I literally felt his shoulder bulge into my inside leg. There's that developing feel again!
To get him looser in the front end, JL had me SWING his nose in at each stride until he finally let go. And when I say let go, I totally felt his neck loosen up and his shoulders begin to swing freely. That's the first time I've actually felt him "loosen up." It was quite a remarkable feel (more of that word!).
Here's what we worked on until I was red in the face and Speedy was damp with sweat: canter forward (insert holy crap!), stop with the outside rein while "catching" him with the inside leg. Repeat many, many times. And just for giggles, return to the circle on the right lead canter so he can get a bunch of bucking in to go along with the rearing at the halt from the outside rein.
After halting him repeatedly, and I mean like 30 times, he finally quit blowing through the outside shoulder, and I was able to ask him to lighten up with the outside rein. From the circle, I spiraled out to the fence and then rode the long side with his nose on the fence. As we approached the corner, I was able to really rock him back and slow him for the corner and then ride a nice balanced canter (can't really call it collected, but it was close) across the short end.
After a few of these repetitions, both Speedy and I got it. JL remarked a number of times how she could actually see me schooling and correcting him with my outside rein while genuinely supporting with my inside rein. My first reaction was what were you seeing before, but then I realized that she was COMPLIMENTING our canter work. Woohoo!
A few more weeks of this kind of work and we will be rock stars at the canter! We're so close ...