So this time around we went back to basics a bit and really focus on straightness and getting Ringo to sit a little bit more in the canter. Thanks to Pa's awesome videography, I have video evidence of how good he was! There's still lots and lots to work on (mostly with my position: wobbly core, chair seat, floating left elbow - ugh!) but I'm really happy with how he's looking.
Here's the tail end of our warmup, just starting to put him together a bit more in the canter:
After warming up, we did a "box" exercise, where I rode a box shape around the bottom end of the arena, focusing on making the deepest, squarest turns I could in every corner. Then, we went from there straight into shoulder in. What a difference! Getting control of his hindquarters in the square turn meant that I could go straight into the shoulder in, instead of muddling around the turn and then having to fight his shoulders over. Here's our shoulder in:
Sitting trot = fail. And as you can see, I definitely didn't get it right every time, sometimes resulting in some awkward first few steps of shoulder in. But when we did, it was pretty darn good.
Then, we moved on to the canter, continuing the box exercise and then making two square turns, going across the short diagonal into counter canter, doing two square turns in counter canter, and then heading back across the diagonal into true canter with a 10m circle along the way. Again, when I made the turns correctly, his canter became totally well-balanced and powerful. It felt almost like a whole new gait! Here's the canter in three parts:
He feels the best he ever has for me. I'm getting so nervous for the trip back to California (in just 10 days!!) because I'm worried that the trip will unhinge all the progress we've made. He's so happy at home right now and I'm worried about how he'll adjust to the (not worse, but quite different) lifestyle of the Red Barn. Ugh. We'll just have to make the transition as easy as possible for him!