12.09.20: Scrambled Legs

I raced home and was relieved to find the herd at the top of the hill close to the gate, so I didn't have to take all the time to fetch him out of the back pasture through the chute. I collected all of my things and went to get him, and was happy to find that he wasn't too dirty. We headed down to the arena and I set him up to lunge on the 45' line. He was sluggish getting started, but I managed to get him into a bit of a working walk, and after a few laps to settle into the pattern, I asked him to move up to trot. He was trotting very choppy with his head in the air, and I wasn't very happy with the quality, but I left him alone for a little while to see if he would work it out. When he wasn't making changes I asked for the canter to try to help him find more balance. It took a lot of work to get him to pick up the canter, and it was very disorganized. I think he might have been cross firing, but it was hard to tell, and he didn't hold it for very long before he was back into the trot. As I hoped the canter did help smooth out his trot a little bit, and helped him find the ability to shift his weight backwards. It added more flex in his joints and gave him a little less chop and a little more spring to his step. I asked for another canter transition again to help him, and he went through the same super fast trotting before finally breaking into the canter, or an attempt at the canter. We were dealing with a few cavaletti, so we had some obstacles to work around, and that made it a little more challenging for him to maintain a consistent circle as well as consistent gait. I asked for a few more canter transitions, and he still struggled but was finally able to offer a genuine canter with the correct lead, so I allowed him to slow down all the way to walk again and catch his breath. I was still a little concerned about him overheating, but was pleased to see that he was beginning to gather a bit of sweat around the girth and up around his flanks.
We changed directions to move to the left, which is his easier pattern, and slowly worked our way back up to trot again. He was better able to find his balance, and lower his head at the trot, and so I fairly quickly pushed him up into the canter.  He was much better able to find the canter to the left, but was still not quite consistent with his gait, and legs were still flying. We worked between the trot and the canter for several more transitions finding a little more rhythm and a little more smoothness as he worked. I didn't want to wear him out too much since I intended to ride, so I let him cool down a bit before coiling the 45' line and putting the reins on.
I climbed up and settled in finding my bubble, and balance, seeking the same feeling I had when I climbed off after our lesson. We began working to the left, and I felt like the horse in front and the horse behind were very close in distance just getting on and so I began working on the feeling of riding from behind, keeping a lot of space available under my thighs and seat for him to lift up into, and asking him to come up and back. He responded immediately, and was moving at the same level right away that we had been moving in our previous lesson. We were able to work at a walk, and even though he was tossing his head and "swishing flies" off his chest more than he had been, he was still putting a lot of effort into it. I was very happy with how quickly he settled right back into the work. We don't waste time and are able to just get right to work again, there is no warm up or fiddling around. I was able to ask him to step up from the hind end without him wanting to move off into the trot, and he was really pushing through, and doing less ducking behind the bit. It was taking a lot of leg to help him find the balance but it continues to improve. I worked on a few trot transitions, really concentrating on pushing him forward to find balance and stability and then continuing that right through into the trot. He was doing very well, and so we worked on finding our downward transition as well, which was dramatically improved after our one good transition during the last lesson. He felt much better, but I was still feeling like all thumbs trying to figure out how to continue to ask him to push, and using so much leg that by the time we got down to walk my legs were taxed out completely and it took me a little while to recover. I was pleased with the improvement, I think the first one was the hardest and now that he understands better it is a little easier for him to sort out how to organize to move. We did a few transitions, and then changed directions to work to the right for a while to find out how he was doing to that side. I quickly noticed my left shoulder hurting after a short time, so I worked on making sure that the left rein stayed out and wide to help him open up that shoulder. I found that he was pretty much the same from left to right, other than noticing the shoulder being pulled inward. We worked hard finding the balance and I was pleased to have him responding so well, even if he tucked behind the bit, I was able to continue to push him forward and he wasn't jumping up into the trot. I took the time to really find some steadiness within the gait, and finally began to add balance and continue to add balance until he pushed into the trot. His trot was fairly good, though it took a lot more work for me to find balance and try to help him find his balance within the gait. His trot was not as smooth as I would have liked, but he was putting good effort into it. Even when he would put his head down and really stretch into it, I was able to ask him to push forward and help him find more balance to shift his weight back and lift up his front end. There were moments of clarity where I really could feel his balance shift. We did a few more trot transitions before we finally decided to call it a night. I got back up to the barn and found that we'd been working for an hour and a half, which was hard work for him considering all the transitions that we did.
The biggest question is when can I do it again?