In our lesson yesterday we spent a lot of time cantering. Enough to make us both breathe hard. Then we went right, and did even more cantering. It seemed like it would never end. We probably spent twice as much time on the right, which was difficult for me because I like things to be even when I ride. After we were done, Karin commented that because we spent so much time on his 'bad' side I might be surprised to find that his left side would be the 'bad side' tomorrow. I had doubt, as his right lead has always been the bad lead, why would one lesson with excessive haphazard cantering change that? Well, I shouldn't have doubted the master. Today his left lead was a bit unbalanced and difficult to steer. He was really trying to pop out his outside shoulder and making things generally difficult. His right lead? Very nice, round circles, balanced. He even gave his head down a few strides at a time. Don't doubt the master.
Today started out pretty tense as the scary door was open at the end of the arena. From that big door you can see the equipment barn, outdoor arena, and pasture. There was gravel being laid down on all of the walkways around the property today and a lesson was going on in the outdoor, so things were very interesting at that end of the arena. I was nervous at first and Boomer was very forward but not giving his head at all. About 20 minutes into the ride I did a bunch of cantering and then walked around a 20m circle while bending his neck left and right on a light rein. After that, our trot work was hugely improved. However, one bad habit has cropped up- pulling. Boomer has started to root and try to tug the reins anytime I offer anything resembling a loose rein. So, that was annoying to deal with. I kicked him each time he would root, then would bring him back up until he was on the bit, then offer a longer rein until he pulled, then kick and repeat. Towards the end he was much more relaxed and we had a nice soft contact with his neck stretched a little down but still on the bit and did very good trotting around the whole arena- including the scary end. To cool out I had him walk around the rail (he hates staying on the rail) with his neck bent to the inside. He has a tendency to look outside the rail and pop his shoulder to the inside and then start drifting in. Mostly this happens to the left. So I did two laps left with his neck to the inside, then one lap with his neck straight- only correcting when he looked outside, then one lap right with his neck straight. That was a really good exercise and he was really responsive to that. I was surprised how calm he was by the end of the ride. It is sometimes frustrating that he takes so long to warm up, but the last half hour of our ride is always an improvement!