Once again, Boomer showed us that he was really 'getting it' and right away was light and soft in my hand with a giving poll and jaw. We were allowed off of the 20 meter circle and went around the arena at large for the first time in a lesson and Karin walked behind to judge out straightness. What do you know? We are walking straight lines! I never expected it, but she was pleased with us and had only good things to say, even about our corners, which I worked on making them like little squares. Just a few short weeks ago, Boomer couldn't or wouldn't walk straight along the rail. He would wiggle and bend, pushing away from the rail and looking towards the outside. I am amazed at how different he is now that I have him reliably on the bit! Karin complimented his walk and said that his back hooves over-stride his front hoof print by almost 8 inches! Apparently in a dressage test, this is a very good thing! She wants me to really encourage him to have that big walk all of the time.
We worked on more walk/trot transitions and keeping the contact steady without Boomer rising up and resisting. That is getting much better. The downward transition is still difficult.
We worked on the canter also and that is continually improving. To the left, I was able to get him to give his head down for a quarter of a circle a few different times. To the right, we are still working on keeping in the canter when I introduce my inside rein. Karin and I discussed the options I have when he breaks from the canter. I had been bringing him back to the walk until he was back on contact with a relaxed neck, but Karin thinks I should just leave his head alone and thump him hard to get right back into the canter. We worked on getting the canter transition to be more alert and quick. for right now, I am supposed to be trotting around, and test his alertness to my leg by kicking him and making sure he will jump forward. Once I know he is awake to my leg, I can ask him to canter, but I have to thump him and make sure he does it in the stride I ask for. No hesitation allowed. Once he is in it, I have to make sure to thump him again if he starts to slow or drop tot he trot. For now, all of this thumping is ugly, but Karin really wants to drive the point home that being forward and awake to my leg is the key to the gait (any gait) and that it comes first before asking for his head/roundness. As far as the after-canter trot goes, she had me be a little softer with my hand and let him stretch down instead of asking him to be more round. He tends to get behind my leg, so this helped him be more forward. Seemed to work well.
Overall, a very good ride. I want to continue working on roundness through our transitions and asking him to give to the inside rein at the canter.