Well, that was a month ago, and in the past four weeks we have worked. I've been playing around with the ideal weekly schedule for Ringo, and have found, somewhat surprisingly, that he actually does much better with a little more down time than I'd first guess, and then harder rides in between. So instead of riding 6 days a week in medium intensity each time, I found that he responded better when I only rode him 4 days a week, but made 3 of those days really count (and then had a hack the other day). We did hundreds of walk-canter-walk transitions and I tried to spend a lot more time riding with that target collected canter in mind (whereas normally I would spend a lot less time 'up' with more long and low breaks in between, because I knew that I was going to do that 6 days in a row).
And it showed!! He did get a little strong and heavy at the end when he got tired, but was night and day different from our last lesson. I feel like I'm finally starting to understand what the requirements are for this level, and what it's going to take from me and from Ringo for us to be successful. It's exciting!
Now, to the videos. After doing some haunches-in at the walk and trot (while focusing on less angle and more hind end loading than I'd instinctually go for), we worked the half-pass in trot. The first few times to the left, I struggled at finding the right angle without having him fall against my left leg. Kim had us do a transition to walk and back to trot within the left half pass, with great results. The last time, he had some great reach! Check it out:
After that, we went to canter and returned to the haunches-in, this time starting with a small angle and then going to a steep angle in order to practice controlling the quarters. Ringo was a total champ:
We started incorporating flying changes into the lesson, with some initially wild results:
But after he settled down a little, he was FABULOUS, and even successfully showed off the 4 tempis we've been (somewhat secretly) working on over the past few weeks:
Kim was super pleased with his obedience (and I was, too, since this has been a major breakthrough of the past few weeks to go from melting down by the third change to doing them all neat as a button!) but not so much with his straightness, so we moved on to doing them on a straight line on the quarter line. I've done changes along the rail before but never down the quarter line. It was definitely illuminating to see how much he wandered around! But by the end, we were doing all right:
After a few successful attempts along the quarter line, Kim reiterated the importance of maintaining straightness in the changes... with the incentive that she thought that Ringo would be able to do 1s someday! How cool would that be?? That feels pretty far away at the moment, but is fun to think about. In the meantime, the 4s were more than enough to put a smile on my face :)
At the very end, we started working on an 'approaching pirouette' canter. We still have a lot of work left to do here (but hey, a month ago we didn't even have an acceptable working canter!), but Ringo had a few good steps to the right:
So exciting!! Thanks, Ray!! We've still got lots of homework, but I'm super pleased with how we've come in a month. I'm so lucky to have such an amazing horse :)