Following up on my resolution to focus on connection and forwardness, I asked Megan Marshall to come and ride Rogo and to coach me while she did so (cheating just a tad on my resolve to do all the riding :) - but it was for a good cause!). Megan has lived and studied dressage in Germany and is a great resource from many perspectives. I'm very lucky, living in the rural area of Nova Scotia, to have good teachers and assistance available.
Just as background - Joan and Cheryl are more than capable of teaching Rogo and I conncetion and they have been building the foundation towards this step (better connection). Megan is a friend and I work with her from time to time on specific issues. Basic philosophies are shared, it's organic and it seems to work.
I was amazed at the progress she made with Rogo in one evening. He's basically ready for this - Megan rode him with much better connection than me early in the summer (that's why I asked her to come and do it again), when she was here to longe me at the canter.
After warming up, she worked him in trot circles, leg yielding out, anchoring her inside hand and taking her outside hand a bit to the outside, keeping them fairly low. She PUSHED hard with his forward rhythm and voila - he was round! She moved her hands quietly to the correct position and he would hold it down the long side. Then I got on and did the same. It was hard work to get it started. I was pushing with my legs on the forward beat as hard as I could - I really need to get those legs stronger (which Joan and Cheryl have been telling me for months). We worked on 20 m trot circles and when he dropped his head and 'took' the bit we'd straighten down the long side. He'd keep a correct position with very light contact once he took it. It felt great! He'd hold it for most of a long side and sometimes around the end before coming up again. Then we'd go back into a circle and repeat. We got much more time in a correct, softer position than I've been getting up until then and much more than I expected to get in one night of focusing on it.
We weren't looking for any kind of collection or an advanced frame, just a good connection for his level of training. Megan took some video with her phone so I could see us doing it and I was very happy with Rogo. I'll keep working on it and get Doug to video us soon, so I can post a record of where we are.I don't know if I'll show him anymore this year or not, but I definitely feel like we're slowly but surely making progress.