You are probably bored with lesson write ups . . . so, if so, you aren't compelled to read this. Like many others, I write these for my own use, so that I can go back and reread what we were working on at some point in the future. Especially when things happen that I want to document.
Amanda and I talked about the show, about how I felt about the dressage test, about clinics in general, and how it affected Ashke. Then she started me working on square turns (over the haunches). Ashke was feeling very comfortable and moving very easily. We did square turns (left ones first) up and down the arena, and he definitely does things to the left easier than things to the right. Then we did serpentines, up and down the arena (all of this at the trot), with the occasional circle thrown in to limit predictability. It is going to be something to focus on in each ride, this bend to the right thing, until it becomes second nature.
Then we went into the canter work. We started to the right with a spiral circle and this time Ashke did great with moving back out into a larger circle. We did it twice in each direction and each time it was easier to move him where I wanted him off my leg. Although, he does like to come to a screeching halt when I say "good boy". I told him that meant he was doing good, not that he could halt. He snorted and stopped breaking gait after that. (He really does understand a lot of English). We turned to the left and he did the exercise, although I could feel him beginning to struggle toward the end so I asked for a downward transition before he could break gait. Then we did it again. He's only going to get stronger if we keep working at pushing the envelope.
After the spiral circles, we did the teardrop exercise, with haunches in along the wall. I used a dressage whip to just touch his hip to get him to step it inside and once again he was able to do it to the left but struggled to the right. I stopped asking for bend up front and just asked him to bring his hip in, which he was able to do for a couple of steps, which is more than last time. Amanda said he was doing it with the front of his body in a neutral position, which is better than the counter bending he was doing a couple of weeks ago.
Finally, we finished up with walk-canter transitions. We would walk, transition to a canter, ride a 15m circle (more like a 20m pear, honestly), come back to the rail and transition to a walk. Ashke did three great circles like this to the left. When we turned to the right, he got a little pissy. (Amanda says he is getting pissed off, not anxious during these exercises. I was thinking anxiety and was being careful. She says its not anxiety but rather he's pissed I'm making him do the exercises.) After our first circle to the right, when I asked him to come back to the walk, he started to swing his hip out and I reached back with my left heel to request he keep it in. He gave a little buck-like hop and kicked the bottom of my boot.
I was shocked. Amanda was shocked. Ashke appeared smug.
As we moved forward to try the exercise again Amanda said something about him going back into the sidereins if he was going to have attitude. His ears came up and he did the walk-canter, to a circle, back to the walk exercise without complaint. I swear he understands English. It was a perfect rendering of the exercise, so we were done.
Amanda also made the comment that he is so much more comfortable with the contact that I can stop giving him so much rein when asking for the canter. He is strong enough that we can start really asking him to remain on the bit and collect a little when doing the canter work, which we need to do if I am ever going to canter the obstacles. I decided last night that I am going to stop doing clinics with other people for a while. I've found a coach that I really like and with whom I think Ashke and I can improve. Changing how I am asking him to do the things we are working on is just going to confuse us at this point and I need to get him really comfortable with the work we are currently doing. It's not like we don't have a ton to work on. I would really like to start schooling the moves for the Intermediate level test this winter, working on the pirouettes, half pass and flying change of lead. But first we need to nail this bend to the right thing.
We have a show in five weeks, another one two weeks after that, and then we are done for the show season this year.