Why do I feel more confident with someone on the ground? This is because my horse is a grump when he's asked to work plus he is still confused with the canter. Obviously it's not something he was allowed to do during a race so maybe he thinks it's bad? We always laugh when he does canter on his own because he's doing it to act out. When he has these moods, it's great because he's willing to do it; therefore, I don't get the grunting and kicking out that I usually do. Once he works past those moments, his canter is a dream. He has a 3-beat canter which I thought would be unlikely coming from him. I most definitely thought we'd have some 4-beat mess, but am glad to know that it looks "normal" when he's got it in the front and back.
In order to push the canter forward, we worked on jumping in previous months. That encouraged the motion, and since he loves to jump, he loves to move which results in nice cantering. Our issue at this point is moving straight because I never would guide him over a jump and let him turn after. We did some grid work to help out the forward and straight motion.
I do apologize that this video is very blurry, but you get the point. Encouraging the straight line continues to be an issue since we've worked in circles so many times prior to this, but it was half decent. I also got to work on getting him to move to the way of the lead he landed on. My instructor would call out what lead he was on, and I would go in that direction to encourage his brain to work like it should. He's always been great with picking up his right leads, too! What's great is that we do have some sort of a system for being asked, but I can't always get the right button. When we can finally work together, I get so happy, but the moving forward part is still an issue. I'm sure that with time, it will come, and we have a lot to work on in the mean time. I am happy to say that one of my last rides, I was able to push through him wanting to stop.
I'm happy also knowing that I used to get excited when we cantered at all. This was uncontrollable and just a way to encourage him to do it if he decided to do it on his own or if I pushed him into it without trying. He would get a lot of praise and was certainly confused being allowed to do it. It went from just going for as many strides as he wanted to give to asking him to do it for a few strides. Once we could get past a few strides (and kicking out), we worked on a bit of steering with the circles and the jumps to turn the direction of the lead he landed on. From there, we were able to ask for a little bit more which led to me being able to push him through his laziness and desire to stop. Even though it was just a few strides past where he wanted to stop, I can say I had a huge smile on my face. I never thought that something so simple would make me so happy, but I knew we were finally getting somewhere.
Once it dries out some, I plan on working on more jumping since that seems to pick up Spyder's mood and gives him something to think about. It keeps me happy to know he gets excited to do something different since we've been working on way too much dressage! I did end up getting a dressage saddle (which I have yet to use) so that I can work on my posture, as well. For Christmas, I got the final pieces to use it, but I haven't had the right day to see how the saddle will work for me. Since I've been going to the chiropractor, I think it will help ease some of my back pain that I get from being tense while riding and forward in my jumping saddle. I talk about how Spyder has a lot of work to do, but so do I. I need to get my heels down and my butt in the saddle. Hopefully 2013 will bring some better etiquette from both of us as a team.