When I started riding him in the middle of July, we had to start from the beginning. I spent the first two weeks of the month just lunging at the walk and trot. Once I was sure that his leg was really and truly healed, I started riding again, albeit introducing the trot work very gradually.
My trainer, Chemaine Hurtado, suggested I spend at least one week at each level. That meant that if I wanted to tackle Second Level stuff again, I would need at least four weeks. I've kept that schedule in mind.
To get a lengthening on Speedy, Chemaine has had me really gather his stride on the short side and then straighten him as we make the corner. Rather than scream GO! out of the corner, she's encouraged me to start slow and then gradually lengthen Speedy's stride by thinking big, Bigger, BIGGEST.
In theory, that sounds like it all should work, but I wasn't really getting a lengthened stride. Sometimes I could, but usually, the stride was just quicker. I am happy to report that I am finally getting an actual longer stride.
To get it, I am now HALF HALTING more effectively while revving Speedy's engine on the short side. As we come through the corner, I am getting him straight and ready. Now when I lower my hands and think big, Bigger, BIGGEST, I can actually feel his withers come up and his hind legs launch us forward in a much bigger stride; it's not simply faster.
I know it doesn't look nearly as fabulous as it feels, but like everything else, once I get a sense of what it should feel like, it is so much easier to get it again.
We'll get a lesson in mid-September, and then I am shooting for a rated show at the end of October. We'll get to Second Level eventually. Right now, I am really glad to have my pony back. That dude is a whole lot of fun to ride.