This was our last lesson before the schooling show this weekend. Still too cold and windy to use the dressage arena - Drat!
We hadn't ridden much since our last lesson so we pretty much picked up where we left off. Still trying to get Dexter off his right shoulder. I think we made some progress although it seems like I almost have to hold him there, so we need to work on self carriage there. I did learn the less I focus on his head and make smaller adjustments, the more consistent his is with his contact. This was a concern of mine for the show. I knew he could get on the bit and in a nice frame, but I hadn't been able to hold it for more than a couple of strides until this week. I'm learning to worry less and just ride.
His canter work was super good and consistent. Still a little loosey-goosey going to the left but he is carrying himself much better. And I didn't even realize it until this lesson but he's stopped going around with his head in the air. We hadn't spent too much time worrying about his head in the canter and it kind of just fell into place, isn't that awesome. We did a lot of long sides and I'm getting the idea, as long as I do a slight shoulder in or ask for one anyways, he stays more balanced. Trainer described it as trying to thread his inside hind between his two front feet.
We practiced the center line, doing 10 meter circles down the long side to prepare. We did both turning down from the left and right to see which works better. He seemed more supple turning down left, but seemed to blow through my aides and ended up about a foot from the center line with his butt swung out to the right. Turning down from the right, I had to keep my aides on pretty strong but he stayed more straight and it looked better. Not sure which we will do at the show yet.
We practiced training level test 2, and since we had worked on the center line it was much better, but the stretch circle and diagonals weren't perfect. Right now they are as good as they are going to get for the show and I'm not going to overwork and stress about it, the last thing I want is Dexter to anticipate and get nervous about stretching. But we know what to practice for the next show.
I did notice his transitions from the canter to the trot are better than I expected. Trainer hasn't let us practice those because we have worked so hard to keep him cantering down the long side that starting to transition may erase a lot of work we've done. We will get there eventually, but not quite yet. None the less, the few we have done in the tests aren't total disasters. He is a little on the forehand and rushes his first few trot strides but I'm able to bring him back pretty quick. I was worried we would be half cantering for a good while before he could relax.
So this Saturday is the show.... wish us luck. We may not be 100% prepared, but there is only one way to find out.