I was at the barn for last night's lesson at 5:30. It only took a few minutes to brush out Ashke's coat, since he is still so filthy (I can't wait for Expo and the hot water there), even clipped. Soon he will be clean and white and not have dripping dried urine on his legs.
Once he was saddled, we spent twenty minutes walking back and forth in front of the scary end of the arena until we could walk past it without tilting an ear or trying to spook. Then we went to work. The first two canters I asked for were really rough. He was struggling. I got off and put him on the lunge to let him warm up his hind end without me flopping around on his back.
We was visibly favoring his right hind at the trot. He moved right into the canter when requested, though, and rocked the canter for a good five minutes. He was on a ten meter circle, even though I was giving him as much rope as he wanted, and he didn't try to cross canter a single time. Such a good boy. When he moved back into the trot, he wasn't off as bad. We did another canter session until he was snorting and rocking along. We cantered in the other direction as well, and then I got back on.
We did a couple of figure 8 transitions, with canter-trot-canter at X, which he was soft and easy with. We did serpentines, leg yields, canter serpentines, canter leg yields, shoulder in and some haunches in. Then Amanda pulled out the cones and we worked on the double slalom.
I had a huge ah-ha moment when Amanda told me to look up and find one of the roof braces to focus on, which kept me from staring down at the cone and helped Ashke not drop around the turn so tightly. It also helped me keep him straight in our transition, and set us up better for the next turn. He did three in a row in both directions, very well. Amanda told me after we did the double that I shouldn't be surprised by our ability to turn the double slalom, since we are doing things that are tougher than that in our normal lessons.
I'm very happy that both of the hard obstacles I was worried about ended up being something Ashke and I can accomplish. And I love my trainer.