12.10.14: Another Layer of Struggle & Release

I began the morning lesson with Storm on the 45' line so that Kirsten could see how he was doing. He was in a good frame of mind, though was reluctant to pick up the faster gaits. Kirsten encouraged me to push him and really get after him to get him into the canter. He struggled the same as he had been still cross firing and counter cantering at different points. He never lost his cool, though, which was a great sign. She encouraged me to continue working him on the lunge line going all the way up to canter to really help him build his balance and strength. I didn't want to wear him out too much, so I allowed him to cool down a little bit and catch his breath before I got ready to ride.
We worked to the left first, incidentally, and he was doing fairly well. I was a bit frustrated because he was keeping me a bit high on the right, which wasn't serving me, and I was having trouble really feeling the shift in him and thus was riding around uncorrected for long periods of time. It took me almost the entire lesson to really find that balance again and correct it. We did some trot work, and it went fairly well, I was still finding my skills to maintain his balance at the trot, but I could also feel that his trot was improving in and of itself. There were moments where it was beautiful and easy, and then there were moments where it was choppy and rough and it was all I could do to stay sort of balanced.
We finally changed direction and headed to the left, and I was surprised to find that there was some struggle there. Kirsten let us know that we could go up into trot if we wanted to, and when I asked him to step up to get into the trot he felt a bit sluggish, and it didn't feel good at all. As I came around past Kirsten again I made the comment, and she said that he was really working hard to release his left shoulder. When a horse has a pattern of being weak on the right hind, the left shoulder is the one that takes the extra weight. As they get stronger in the back, it takes them longer to finally unlock the front end to find complete balance. She encouraged me to support him through it and not trot until I felt like he had really settled down and stabilized. He was doing a lot of head shaking, and stretching and wiggling in the front end, so I just kept working on rebalancing him. Eventually he settled down a little bit and I checked back in with Kirsten, and she suggested I try the trot again to see how it felt, I didn't have to go up into trot if it didn't feel good. So I gently encouraged him forward, and really liked the result, he moved much more easily, and we slipped into the trot without a struggle. He felt much better in the trot, and was still doing a lot of moving around and stretching, so I just continued to work to guide him and keep him balanced. When we settled back down into the walk, it felt better still. Kirsten agreed that it was the right time to move into the trot to help support him more and that it did improve the walk yet again.
I was relieved there was still no cantering while on board, but I know with every step we get closer.
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