We're not doing things perfectly, of course, but that little dude has got some moves. He can groove it out when I ask correctly. We did some trot work while JL was finishing with another student, so by the time she was ready for me, Speedy was warmed-up and ready to work.
I told her where we were after finishing Training Level, and what we need to work on for First Level:
- 10-meter half circles
- 15-meter canter circles
- lengthen stride and trot and canter
- leg yield
- 10-meter trot circles
- change of lead through trot
- counter canter
We picked up the trot, transitioned to canter, and then went for a small lengthening. As I knew he would, Speedy went balls to the wall requiring me to haul back on the reins for a stop. Right away JL recognized what we needed to do to fix it.
The first issue was the that my reins were too long which meant I had a "loose" horse. No doubt, - Chemaine has been known to shout, "get him deeper, deeper, deeper!" I like to let his neck get too long.
I shortened my reins and tried again. Speedy was still a bit of a run-away so JL had me bring him back to a walk so we could remind him what the outside rein means. I planted my inside rein and then asked for a hard halt (pulley halt). We did it several more times until he was halting with only the hint of an ask.
We then moved on to the trot where we did the same thing. With a horse as "chewy" as Speedy, I have to be really steady with my hands as he has very good power steering. If I move each hand too much, we're all over the place. By keeping my inside hand low and still, the outside rein's message can get through to the hind end.
As we prepared for the canter, JL asked me how many "pounds" I was okay with in my hand when asking for the return to working canter from the lengthening. None, I told her. I want him to come back to working canter with just with my seat. Her response was that I needed to be very picky then about how much I let him ignore that outside rein. I can ask once for two strides, if I don't get what I want, then I have to turn up the volume and ask really loudly.
So that's what we did. At the canter, I asked once, and when Speedy didn't give me a halt, I asked him hard. We picked up the canter again, and when I asked for the halt, I got a very definite response. It wasn't as quick as I wanted, but it was obvious he was checking in and trying. The third time I asked, I got a good response.
With the button installed, I asked for the canter (holy cow was it nice - in fact, he offered the most up-hill canter departure he has ever done!), turned down the long side, and asked him to lengthen his stride. As we neared the short side, I kept my inside hand low and steady and asked for a return to working canter. It wasn't perfect, but he gave a good response. We made the corner and on the next long side, I asked for a second lengthening. This time, his response to my half halt was immediate and very good. We did a downward transition to working trot and finished on that note.
I know we're (mostly) ready for First Level, but we still have some rough edges that need to be smoothed out. I am very much looking forward to my lesson with Chemaine on Saturday (this weekend's show is a twofer - lesson and a schooling show packaged into one trip). I am certain she'll bring some sandpaper!