Things have been fairly quiet in our part of the world. Work, for me, has gotten a bit busier, thus keeping me away from the barn more than I'd like. For Ben, this has meant extended breaks of the 3-5 day variety. You all know by now how much I hate stringing multiple days off for this horse. Not much I can do about it right now, though.
We are making do. Our trainer was also on a long vacation, which meant that we got to work with her mom. I'll admit, I was terrified to work with someone else - I have this fear that anyone other than our trainer will tell us that we're not worthy. So while I could've just skated by for 2 weeks, I knew I had to overcome this fear. Fully clothed in my Big Girl Panties, off I went to my lesson.
As it turns out, it was a really great thing to do. #1, I got lots of compliments - which is the exact opposite of what I was expecting. I also got some direct feedback about my, uhmmm, wayward left arm, especially when it is serving as the outside rein. It has a mind of its own. But fresh eyes and a laser focus on it, and it got much better. Imagine that.
#2 We fixed the right canter. Ben has a habit of not connecting to my left outside rein (see wayward left arm comment above), but also doesn't much respond to my right leg. He will move off, sure, but he is not fully supple and gives me about, oh, 20% of a step in response to that leg. So, with me on top focused on my stupid left arm, our instructor worked with Ben's response to my right leg from the ground. That is, I put my leg on and he MUST step under. a real step. Turn on the forehand. She reinforced by following with a tap of the whip. So we'd get a few good steps on a 10 m circle, then I'd ask for a canter, and reinforce that feeling of him stepping under. And wow, did that ever help with the strike off and push in the canter. The steps got cleaner, the gait got more pure.
It was a quick, but intense lesson, maybe 25-30 minutes. But it has had lasting effects. Our canter has gotten even that much better. Now the canter to the left is feeling a bit left out, so we've been working on that side too.
The canter, while it is the hardest of all 3 gaits for Ben, is the most fun and enjoyable. Truth be told, I have to remind myself to put some work into the trot. I just don't like it as much, haha. And honestly, even those the purity of the gait is the worst in the canter, I do think Ben actually prefers the canter work over the trot...but maybe that is because of his rider ;)