Sydney now has a pretty decent canter departure in both directions. He is consistent about the departures, and we both seem to understand the aids that he needs. What JL wanted us to work on this week, and for the foreseeable future, is the quality of the canter that follows the departure. Nothing mind blowing there, isn't that what dressage is all about?
The work to the left is now focused on two things:
- Sydney needs to be rounder, which means carrying more of his own weight; and …
- I need to keep him cantering without allowing him to fall back into the trot.
And then .. we just canter. He needs to build some muscle for this shorter frame. I don't need to ask for anything else other than that he stay right there. This means a lot of work on my own position. My habit has been to let him pop me out of the tack as he falls onto the forehand and into the trot. No more. It is my job to SIT UP, open my shoulders and be consistent with my leg when he starts to falter.
The work to the right is focused in nearly the same way:
- I don't ask for the canter until I am sure I have his haunches behind his shoulders, and once I ask, I have to be prepared to help him stay balanced from the very first stride.
- I can't ask for any inside bend until his is solidly on the outside rein and listening to it.
A few weeks ago, this loss of balance combined with my poor riding would have sent his brain spinning. Now that I have a better feel for what's going on and know what I need to do to support him, the drama has vanished. I gathered up my reins, had him crab sideways a few steps to straighten him out, and we picked up a quiet and balanced canter. No big deal.
Our homework is pretty simple: for him, wait for my aids; for me, sit up, open my chest, and be clear in my aids. I think we can handle it.