Normally, I take my lessons up at JL's arena, but now that I am only riding Speedy, she's agreed to come down to my arena when needed. Speedy needs long lines now for leg yields and lengthenings. Sydney just needed a good space for 20-meter circles and changes of direction.
I told JL how Speedy swapped leads in the back during the canter work at the schooling show, especially returning to working canter from the lengthening. Chemaine had said the problem was because I didn't have my outside leg back far enough to keep his haunches in. JL agreed.
JL asked me to show her the movement that was causing us so much trouble. The cross-firing happened after we lengthened and "tried" to return to working canter in the corner before leaving the second corner to cross the diagonal (KXM - change rein, X - working trot). That corner becomes a 45 degree angle and it's hard to make while galloping like a lunatic.
In reality, we've done that same corner at Training Level, but the added difficulty is that we now have to get back to a working canter from the lengthening.
Of course, when I showed her the turn that I have to make, Speedy did it more or less just fine, but we didn't do it with the canter lengething first. This told me a lot. It's not the turn so much as getting control of his rear end in a working canter.
To address the issue, JL had me pick up a canter, and then instructed me to ride the smallest canter circle I could with a bit of counter bend. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! All of a sudden I felt what I needed to do to make the turn more effectively. I had been so worried about the inside bend that I had dropped the outside aids (rein and leg).
We rode the corner a few times with a slight counter bend so that I could get a good feel for how much outside aid I would need, then we added in the canter lengthening. We made the corner with no lead swapping. AHA!
Chemaine gave me several things to think about this month. I think that getting Speedy's canter slower and more balanced is going to go a long way toward improving our scores. With a more balanced canter, our 15-meter canter circle and the lengthenings will definitely get better.