After what seems like forever (in reality maybe 6 weeks) I had my first lesson. I was a little excited and scared. First, I thought we have been doing really well, I feel like his canter is calmer and better and he is holding his head more consistently. But I had this ultimate fear that since I had been un-checked for so long that it was all in my head and that we weren't as fabulous as I was imagining.
Unfortunately the latter was more correct. We weren't awful and she did comment on on my frame being better. But we didn't get off the 20 meter circle the entire time!! Bummer, I was hoping to run through at least one test since I have a show this weekend.
What I had been feeling as forward with his head in place was him running around on his forehand. So we worked the entire lesson on half halting, getting him under me and getting his tempo to a manageable speed. I also thought he was finally bending nicely to the right, nope... just popping his shoulder out. And the great thing about a lesson is once she points something out it's so obvious, but I slowly forget it over time. Shucks.
Still we did some good work that I think will help me in the show. Getting him to listen and rock back with half halts will help me keep him focused during the tests. She didn't use the words (she never comes right out and says what we are working on) but I know we were working on self carriage. No more fiddling with my hands, he needs to drive into them. I know, I sound like a broken record I talk about this every lesson.
We even worked on a lot of walk work, which I'm glad because we usually blow through it and it's obvious when he walks around with his head in the air during the tests. Our canter work was, to be honest .... scary. Not scary bad, just scary. He was still popping his shoulder out to the right, and to fix it Trainer had me counter flex him on the circle. Problem was, Dexter didn't understand and would start to head straight towards the wall. Eeep! But we never ran into it so all is good. And all of a sudden my nice calm canter was out the window, we were barreling around the arena again trying to push him into the contact and get his hind end under him. I'm thinking it will be a while before we get the nice collected lope I so enjoy.
Positives from the lesson - by the end Dexter was listening to my half halts and I felt a nice slow rhythm. I feel I kept my position and body relaxed 90% of the time, which is much better than before. Dexter is starting to get really nice walk-trot transitions without throwing his head.
Things to work on - Keeping him underneath me, if I feel like I need to lean forward he is pulling and falling on his forehand. No more easy fixes, when he isn't paying attention or his head isn't where it should be start with my seat and work forward.