Lesson #2 went very well today! I am thrilled with Boomer's progress already! In the short week between lessons he went from being very resistant to contact to accepting contact for the majority of the ride. Today we worked on maintaining control of direction while on contact. I have run in to a little trouble with Boomer wanting to blow out his outside shoulder and go tangentially off the circle instead of turning. Karin had us on a 20m circle, then had me ride straight down the long side halfway down the arena, then make a turn across, the come back down and complete the 20m circle. This gave him lots of opportunity to blow through the outside shoulder, which he did. She had me fix this by really engaging my outside leg and hand. This is really only a problem going to the left. Karin pointed out that when he started to blow right, I would activate my left side to try to 'pull' him around, thus opening the right side and inviting him to continue blowing right. So, she had me focus on having weight in the right seat bone, lengthening my right leg and bumping him if needed, and in not giving away outside rein contact. Also, I am supposed to look where I am going. That worked! So, now we have relaxed contact, forward movement, and steering!
Mostly we just focused on walk and trot, we cantered once but he really rushed and threw up his head. Once I got him cantering and also tried activating my inside rein to have him relax, he lost balance and tried to lean inside and broke to trot. Karin still wants me to work on cantering, but she wants me to 'forget' about connection and just focus on getting him to canter as soon as I give the aids instead of rushing.
We worked a little on leg yields today as well. Towards the left, off the right leg he is very good. But towards the right off the left leg he just tries to wiggle and bend his way out of crossing over in the back. Karin had me focus on that connection again and then try to yield with connection, slowing him down with my hands and pushing him over with my leg so that it was an exaggerated yield where he really had to cross with his back legs. Anytime he started to move forward too much, he got 'strung out' and wasn't really needing to cross over because his body was so long. So, I have to balance that forward motion and keep him compact enough that he has to reach underneath. I could really feel when he was stepping over behind instead of in front! Very cool! She said that in his 'bad' direction, I have to really focus on getting only one or two strides of good, collected, crossing over strides and really praise him for correct work instead of letting him wiggle around so he isn't crossing over. On his good side, I can expect more strides from him.
I am seeing a pattern emerge so far when we get stuck- the solution is probably in my outside hand or leg!