What does energy have to do with counter-canter and lengthens you ask? Well, if your horse is pretty balanced and relaxed but low energy, how is that transition from trot to canter? How high quality is the low energy canter that comes out of that transition? How does that canter work out for the counter-canter? Also, how is that transition from low energy working trot to lengthened trot? Now traditional dressage would tell you to add lots of leg/seat/stick to get that much need energy. Which usually results in the crammed together look seen all over in dressage. Dressage Naturally has a different approach that emphasizes a whisper instead of a shout. On a loose rein walk the rider coils up her energy like the kitty pictured below and sends it forward into a trot. If the horse does not respond 100% the rider can tap the horse behind the leg, tap his boot, or a variety of other gentle scoot forward reinforcers. Wash, rinse, repeat. Basically, over time, you will tune the horse to listen and respond to your energy using this exercise and the horse eventually moves almost off of your thoughts. It is amazing stuff that looks something like this for every transition.
So, right now we are focusing on having the correct amount of energy BEFORE every transition. Low and behold Jet's gaits are better and it is much easier to shift his balance back and/or slow his tempo. This of course helps make a nice balanced canter that makes counter-canter possible and a slightly coiled up trot that can lengthen a little as well. Just by focusing on this one thing but doing essentially the same exercises, problem solved. Relaxation, Energy, Balance, are the three legs of the Dressage Naturally Sweet Spot and I find myself going back to them over and over when we get stuck.