Today (hmmm, it might be yesterday now) is my birthday and I celebrated with a riding lesson with Joan. It was great! She hadn't seen Rogo in a few weeks and she was very happy with him and kept saying how well he is doing. She agreed that he's reached / crossed a milestone in his training.
Doug and I had a lesson together and Savanah is doing really well too. The crispy weather agrees with them! They're forward and energetic, yet responsive. It was so fun. After warming up with bending and gait transitions Joan started working with us on shoulder in. She is very knowledgeable about classical dressage and the origins of all the movements. She taught us who originated shoulder in (I have to get her to tell me again) and she told us that the modern definition conflicts with the older definition. Joan taught us that in older schools of thought and at the Spanish Riding School shoulder in is a four track movement. The movement is currently (modernly) defined as a three track movement, which is of course a shallower bend. Joan recognizes this as a more elementary step towards the four track movement.
We worked on the three track movement. Joan explained it to us and had us start opposite her and ride towards and away from her, bending first one way and then the other. Both Savanah and Rogo were able to do it. I marvel that they can. It really takes feel and balance to keep them going straight yet bent. I know higher level riders would find this very elementary, but we're (our horses and us) just learning so it's a challenge.
To finish I asked Joan to help me with my canter aid and position. She was happy with my position and Rogo's canter, remarking on how they've improved (in that he'll bend, steer and carry the canter), but she tells me and I agree that the transition to canter need work. He used to pick it up immediately when I gave the aid. I'd slow the trot, give the canter aid and off he'd go. Then he went through a period when he'd go into the canter right away but the first stride or two would be very slow and laboured. Now he is increasing his trot speed before picking up the canter and thus going on the forehand. I wonder if he needs more engagement of his hind quarters to get it right? He isn't schooled in half halts and I think this would be a big help. Joan assumes he knows this and I think Cheryl probably does too, but he isn't. He just didn't have the forwardness or impulsion to 'get' a half halt over the summer and I've been negligent in teaching it. I think I'd better go back and add it to my goal sheet!
Anyway, it was a great morning and we finished with birthday cake, coffee and Bailey's in the trailer.