Yesterday was canter drill team for Red. His warm up went well and we ran through our dressage test directly afterwards while we had the momentum flowing. Trot work was good, his changes of directions were sharp, his free walk was forward, but there were two problems. 1) When I turned in to do the 20m circle to the left, he got tense and his head shot up, anticipating the canter. So we did a full lap of the arena and when we came around again, he was more focused. But 2) When I did go to ask him to canter, he picked up his right lead! Twice! I've made a monster out of him! He was still anticipating a little when we turned in, and I was giving him a touch too much spur with my inside leg which works perfect to the right, but only to the right! He got it the third time and picked it up the right lead when tracking right the first time (Yay!) and we finished the test well enough.
I let him take a breather, then we got down to business. We cantered to the left first and he got his lead each time. I worked him on circles, the full length of the arena, and lengthening and shortening his stride, doing several downward transitions. He was a bit of a beast. His lengthenings were like barely controlled hand gallops the first couple of times, and his shortenings were like a normal big canter. But we got ourselves sorted out and put in some good work at the end.
To the right, he got his lead about 85% of the time. I let him canter for a little longer after each transition than to the right so that he knew the right lead is fabulous and fun to canter on. He pulled a little this way too, buuuut he was actually like a big monster dressage horse canter! No dumping his weight into my hands and onto his forehand--it was all back end, baby.
Here's what I've discovered about myself and not working with a trainer: I can't always tell when we're doing something wrong until we do it right and then the difference is amazing. Obviously that's not the best way to go, but as the pieces are coming together, I'm taking stock of what I need to do differently to get that better feeling.
I'll also say that we've come farther this past month in our dressage and jump work than we have all year. It's probably mostly due to the fact that Red is getting turnout every day and getting fed what he's supposed to so he's feeling like a real horse, but I also think just the few things I pick up from the BO and being in a real horse barn again have made the wheels start spinning.
In other news, look what arrived at the barn yesterday:
|her babysitter, fuzzy.|
|in case you were in the market.|