Anyways, it was a great lesson. We had AWESOME canter work. It was a real, honest to goodness canter. I could keep raving on and on, and I guess I will since there's no video proof to toss in here.
DT praised our walk-trot transition, but did note that he could stay even rounder still. He is getting much more soft more quickly when I pick up the reins. There is less fighting and bracing and more accepting the shorter contact. In the trot, we started with 10m circles down the centerline. Did 1.5 circles each direction so we kept moving our way down the centerline. If we hadn't gotten the bend correct we stayed in that circle for another revolution before changing. I struggled with changing the bend this quickly, so he struggled too. A few we got just right with weight back on the hind instead of flung forward into stiff shoulders.
We took a break after the circles and then moved on to the canter. Right lead first. It had a few good moments, but a lot of moments of me pulling on the inside rein and not putting weight in my right seat bone. Left lead after a walk break, and it was SO GOOD. He was responsive and had his weight rocked back. We managed a few "collected" strides too. I was actively riding as well, asking for bend with the inside hand and leg, giving with the hand when he did, re-asking when needed, moving his ribs over with the inside leg, shaping the circle with my seat and outside aids. It really felt like it all came together. Both DT and I wanted to try the right lead again after that and it was much improved. It was still less consistent (and the left lead is not that consistent anyways...) but there were moments that were much better. He was done after that. I was amazed how much he was blowing after the left lead canter. This dressage business is hard!
DT was saying she could already see the changes in his muscling happening since we first met her a month ago.
He also was much more clever backing out of Ms. GY's slant load this time, he remembered how to turn down the ramp while backing and didn't have any moments of "UH... HALP... AM VERY LONG HORSE AND AM STUCK". When we were unloading at home, he tried to take a cheap shot at Ms. GY's horse's butt when he found he was conveniently pointed right that way. Her horse nails him on the butt pretty frequently, so it was pretty funny that he saw this as his opportunity to give it back when he couldn't face retaliation.
Yesterday we trail rode around the neighborhood. We were racing a storm on our way back and so trotted part of it even though my intent was a walk ride. We were trotting merrily along on a dirt road when he went a bit sideways. I turned to see what he had spooked at and found a group of young beef cattle RIGHT at the fence line. They must have just been moved to that pasture because they were definitely not there the last time we rode past. Such a brave horse though, it was really a very mild spook for a whole group standing at the fence unexpectedly.
The lack of quick thinking on my part during our 10m circles today seemed very much like my jumping lesson Monday. In both instances he is a baby horse so he is going to take longer to respond, so I have to have my shit together to at least be asking him at the appropriate time. I'm mulling over how to get this done. With jumping, I think my cue to remember to sit up and ride will be going over the fence itself. Focus on the next one as I am in the air. I don't know if this is going to screw up my ride to the first one or make me unfold to quick and hit him in the back, but as JT said, at least I'll be trying something!