Dressage today was interesting. It wasn't a bad ride but it wasn't easy. Basically Cindy said that his warm up looked fairly blah. Kind of like she imagines how our dressage test at Paradise was. He wasn't bad, he wasn't horrible, he wasn't even that incorrect, he just wasn't lovely. And because he wasn't lovely that meant he was flat and straight and not very supple.
So... we kind of dug into him today. We wanted fancy and supple and lovely! Not just "good baby horse.. you're not killing me today". We specifically hit the issue into the canter transition. And shockingly enough ;) that really helped transform the canter. So basically, he's not allowed to throw his head up into the canter anymore. He has to sit into it and push into it and canter like a proper dressage horse. It was a battle! We fought and fussed and had tantrums. But in the end, we got some LOVELY canter departs and some seriously nice lovely canters. He was supple, he was hanging his head, he was round and UP in his back, and there was lift and bounce and sproing! It felt amazing!
So the trick is.... when we're trotting along.. his head must be in the center of his neck, which must be in the center of his shoulders. I do want his shoulders slightly in, in a shoulder fore or even shoulder in. (Especially since it was blatantly obvious that he likes to go haunches in). BUT... I can't just pull his nose in.... He's got to be straight in his body, but shoulder in. That made a huge difference!!! Because when I would turn his nose in, his shoulders would still be pointing to the outside of the arena. I could feel it and would panic and pull his nose in even more. So... if I focused on keeping his nose in between his shoulders, then I could tell that it was his shoulders that were out and needed to come in. :) Aha!
So yep.. I'll keep working on that too. I also have to remember to not throw myself at him when I ask for the canter. And then when he is cantering, to let my butt slide and stay in the saddle and to keep my right leg forward. Cindy said that every time I sat I should think about turning my heel out laterally. Not sure how, but that helped!
Oh and we also worked on our counter canter. It was tricky, and funny enough, harder to the left with this new canter. But we did manage it a time or two. :)
So yep.. fun fun fun! Not easy though.