I found that I was needing to do pretty strong half halts, the kind that last for two strides or more. The kind where I get firm and think 1 ... 2 ... release ... 1 ... 2 ... release. When I ride him like this, Izzy will rock back on his hind end and carry himself - if he's listening and balanced.
While I was half halting away, I felt a flash of irritation and had this thought: Dang! Why I am needing such strong half halts? I suddenly realized that we were tracking right, the harder direction. All of a sudden, I was tickled with the quality of the canter. It was so improved that I had forgotten which was the harder direction!
It's so hard to see progress when it comes this slowly. As I was finishing up my ride, I was thinking about what to say to Dr. Christian Schacht at this weekend's clinic. When I rode with him in May, he had said that with a few months of good riding, this horse would make a lot of progress.
That thought bummed me out of course because I am not sure Izzy has had the "good" riding that Dr. Schacht was referring to. But then I remembered how hard it was to pick up a canter in May. Dr. Schacht kept asking for more inside bend and softness before getting the canter lead. We struggled with it. Now? It's not perfect of course, but I don't wonder if we'll get a canter departure. Instead, I'm working on picking up the correct lead where I ask for it.
While we are still at it, where I want it is a lot better than if we'll get it. Perspective is a beautiful thing.