Someone is looking handsome in his new show bridle! I wasn’t going to buy a new bridle until later in the summer, when we are hopefully showing a bit, but a deal showed up and here we are.
The past couple of weeks we’ve been working on focus and having a “try” attitude. Lots of poles, target games, clicks and treats for effort, and I have my willing Cruiser back. Coming up to me to be bridled, a bit more forward, and basically happy to see me and wanting to work. I’ve actually been able to squeeze in quite a bit of dressage between “play” and he has been reaching nicely into the contact, relatively straight, and willing to shorten and lengthen his stride in walk and trot. We even practiced Intro a and b with decent efforts. So fun.
Last Sunday we hauled out to SW’s for a round pen lesson and it went really well. Her round pen is set between pastures filled with horses, there are cats and dogs running around, and in general it is a lot more distracting than Cruise is used to at home. He was pretty up and unfocused but did well with some ground work to get him focused on me, lots of cowboy circles under saddle, and then some pretty nice work at the walk and trot. SW gave me some great pointers, especially about keeping his hind feet moving. On the smaller circles. In turn on the forehand. When he inverts. You get the picture! We’re scheduled to go back in two weeks and do the same thing and maybe if he settles quicker, a bit in the outdoor arena. We’ll see.
On the canter front, yesterday I decided if we had a nice feeling ride at walk and trot we would give canter a try again. He stepped nicely into left lead canter and then stopped to get his treat. Right lead he wasn’t quite willing to step into it and I didn’t push after a couple of asks. Instead I patted him, switched directions and he stepped right into his left lead again. Lots of praise, a treat, and off we went for one last trot and a field ride. I was really happy with the lack of tension and the willingness to try. The plan is to ask for canter every second or third ride but only when the walk and trot work is good. He’s leaning a bit on his right shoulder sometimes and I think fixing that at the walk/trot will eventually lead to an easier time stepping into the right canter.
Thoughts and strategies you’ve used to get a consistent canter on both leads?