Poor Danomite! :) MORE DRESSAGE!! Ha ha.. and he got his hiney worked today!
We had a lesson with Beanie. I told her about the swapping and not holding the right lead. And... I love her! She and Kelly are both on the same page. They both zeroed in on the fact that it's tension. And Beanie also was super sweet and said that when he's supple and lifting his back and not tight, he's a completely different picture and is lovely. :) Ahhh... flattery will get you everywhere ;)
So we started off at the canter... (already warmed up loose rein walk and trot) and she had me get him forward and moving and going and then had me focus on keeping him supple... keeping his neck loose and moving, and almost riding him deep. She said that deep and round and up through his back was way better than long and strung out and flat. And then he started to prop some. Ahhhh.... now I see it!!! It's so much easier to feel that "prop" in the canter than in the trot, but that's exactly what is happening in the trot too. I just didn't quite realize it. The "hitch" in the trot is him bracing in the neck and leaning on the rein. When he does it in the canter, it almost stops the canter and feels like much more of a prop than a hitch.... which makes it more obvious it's a tension/evasion than a lameness. In the trot, it's harder to supple him than the canter. So... she had me supple him by getting him to soften his neck base and to do that I had him canter slightly flexed in, slightly flexed out, slightly flexed in, slightly flexed out. IF I could manage to catch the prop before it happened, a slight overflex in helped prevent the prop or at least resolve it quickly. So yeah.. we did that a bit. She explained (a lot like what Beth has said) that I almost need to immediately dive in and address this in the beginning of my ride. Get in, get out, and make it dramatic if need be. Because otherwise I spend the rest of the ride with him subtly bracing and propping and never really getting entirely supple. So yep... makes sense. We also spiraled in and spiraled out in our canter circle. And if he got too stuck, we could canter big and bold down the long side, but maintaining the supple.
Then we did some trot work. And again, she focused on keeping my transitions (both up and down) supple. No bracing into them or flinging his head. And that was done the same way I rode the warm up canter... Not knitting, but... slight flex and counter flex before and after to keep him supple. And currently, my aids are a bit large, but they will gradually shrink to much more subtle cues. Then we went to some lateral work. We did 10 meter circle to shoulder in to 10 meter circle to travers (right? Haunches in). We did both directions and the key was again.. keeping him supple, keeping my hands low, NOT crossing the neck and blocking the right hind from coming up and under, and keeping my inside leg on for bend. We got some pretty decent ones but I also had to work hard at keeping the hind legs moving quick. We had some decent trot mediums across the diagonal with NO assymetry!! Yay!!
Then we moved to the same exercise at the canter. ugh.. that's hard. And interestingly.. what I thought would be his easy side was just as hard. Beanie was surprised too. Although I'm sure my right rein crossing over the neck didn't help. So... we definitely need work. But still, not too terribly shabby considering we're just really starting that work. We also tried canter half pass, but holy crap is that hard. I think in about 15 tries I got about 3 good steps... on 3 seperate occasions. ha ha.. Oh well. We finally got one good step towards the end and quit with that. He worked hard. :)
Then after we chatted a bit we went for a hack. Just a lazy one because in the beginning he was tired. But then he perked up a bit and we had fun.