Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rogo Does His First Training Level Test

I had a great ride on Rogo tonight. He is doing so well. I honestly began to wonder after our last show if I was going to be able to bring him along and thought that maybe I'd have to put him in the hands of a trainer because I just wasn't capable to training him. Not that anything was terribly wrong. It's just that  he's five and still doing walk trot and not connecting and carrying himself as well as he should. I know, I've said it before, but we really didn't start until last Christmas (I sat on him and trotted around the year before, but didn't do any training and then took three months off, meaning I started from scratch again).
The two shows I went to really helped me though. He did well enough - most marks in the low sixties and earning all firsts and seconds - but he's capable of better and should be doing better by now. I wondered if I was just stuck and that's as far as I could get him. Then, lately, things seemed to start working. 
Megan showed me that he can get into position and accept the bit better. He started carrying his canter. The strap on the front of the saddle helped me with his bending. Things just started to click.
So tonight I decided to try to ride training level test one. This would have been out of the question even a couple of weeks ago. He aced it. YEAH!!!! We are making progress. I've actually trained an unbacked horse to training level! I'm stunned. I'll be the first to admit that he has one of the nicest temperments ever and may be the only horse in the whole world I could have trained. Also, to someone more experienced, this probably seems like a pretty small accomplishment, but to me it is almost impossible.
The test needs a little polish, but its minor except...  The big thing now is improved connection and throughness. Until he has that I won't put him in another competition.
Doug was watching and told me it was better, but it still feels like it needs LOTS of work. Also, even though he did a decent training level test tonight, it felt like my riding was sloppy, like I wasn't helping him to get and stay together. I need to improve in the steadiness of my aids - steady hands and legs, consistent bending aids and preparing him at the correct time.
One glitch - he has started turning on the forehand a bit when he halts. I'll have to ask Joan about it.
Doug and Savanah did very well tonight.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Update

It's been a busy week of riding. I rode twice most days - Rogo in the morning and Dan in the evening. Also I gave Doug a lesson at his request one evening. I ended up being quite tired yesterday, but it rained hard all day, so I took the day off from riding.
I need to set clearer goals, with a time frame, for Dan. Also, I need to remember that I can't train him the way Savanah and Rogo are trained. He just hates the ring too much. I guess he gets bored. So, for this coming week it's going to be maintenance. I have a lot of consulting work to do and am show manager for two upcoming dressage shows, so time is short right now. He gets his shoes back on on Mon., so we can hit the trails. This week I'll longe him twice and go for one ride on the beach (Sun.?). On the trail we'll work on getting prompt and soft walk trot and trot walk transitions, without his nose in the air, and also some leg yields. For Sept. I want him maintaining a good position, doing a strong trot, responding to half halts and with everything, using his hind quarters. He actually tracks up well and can do the work, I just need to keep him motivated and working with me. Much easier said than done. When I get time I should do a goal sheet as I do for Rogo.
Doug wanted me to give him a lesson as he is getting ready to compete on Labour Day weekend. I decided to focus on position left and right with him, and also to try to cure his eternal struggle with Savanah re his perception that she is 'diving' into the center. It's been his nemesis since he got her, but it didn't occur with me. After they warmed up I set up cones and had them do the length of the ring in serpentines, both shallow and deep, at walk and trot. Once they were going well with bending and keeping a rhythm I got them on the rail and told Doug not to compensate for any pulling to the inside she did - in other words not to pull her out  with the rein or hold her out with his leg. I wanted him in perfect straight position and if she tried to duck in he was to tap her inside shoulder with the whip and firmly say no. He did this twice and that was the end of it - she didn't do it again. He's been fighting with her about this for three years. I kept telling him to stop with the mixed up over cueing and just say no, with a tap, but until we focused on it together he didn't get what I meant. His riding was so much better once he could focus on just riding and she lightened, lifted and went forward for him. They both looked so much better. Doug was grinning from ear to ear. He had to do it twice at the start of his lesson with Joan today and then it was fine again. Joan remarked on how much better they were going. I don't think Savanah meant to be bad. They were just locked into this unfortunate pattern together. She didn't do it with me but the two of them just didn't understand one another. It wasn't intentional on her part, or it wouldn't be fixed that easily. With the correction he's using now it's black and white - no misunderstanding. He doesn't hurt her by any means. It's just a tap and a no, while maintaining his position. They weren't understanding one another, but now it seems they do. Yeah for Doug and Savanah!
Rogo and I worked on sitting trot and early collection today, with some trotting figure eights at the end. He's done better figure eights, but they'll come. Joan got us to do eight steps of sitting trot and then eight to ten steps of rising trot. If need be, I'd go back to the walk before doing sitting trot, as I find it easier to start with him than to sit after he's trotting. After we worked at it a while I could sit from posting trot though. Doing eight steps seems to work - I can go that long without bouncing and gradually increase the number of steps and the speed of the trot. Sometimes we went straight and sometimes serpentined through the cones. The ring was still a little wet from all the rain, making it just a little slippery, so we only did one short canter, which went well.
With Rogo I want to keep working on his leg yield, sitting trot, intro collection, halts and improving the canter work.
I'm meeting for coffee with key members of the dressage show committee in Halifax tomorrow. It will be fun to get together and start planning final details.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Doug and I had a lesson with Joan yesterday and I had a lesson with Cheryl today. Both went well.
Joan worked on the introduction to collection with us again. She discussed Ramener and Rasembler. If I remember correctly, we are working on introducing ramener. Rasembler comes later, with full collection.
We are teaching Rogo to work from hind to front - engage his hind quarters, lighten his forehand, lift his head a bit and take the bit. We only do a few steps at the walk. If I could do sitting trot better with him we'd work in trot, but I haven't really started that. I need to work on that a few steps at a time too. I can do it with Dan and Savanah, but Rogo's movement is much bigger. I hadn't started it because he is young, but we can work on it now.
We also worked on circles and he was a little rusty with that. Then we worked on canter and that went well.
Today Cheryl and I worked on circles and figure eights. Interestingly he is better to the left than the right now. It used to be the opposite. I practiced too much left and neglected the right? Anyway, they weren't bad - Cheryl suggested he has a 7 left circle and a 5 right circle. I know I can get the right up to a 7, because he was better before. Then the highlight of the lesson - cantering! Cheryl asked me to pick up the canter on the rail, do a 20 m circle, come out of it and cross the diagonal, briefly trotting as I changed directions and then picking up the canter again and doing a circle in the opposite direction and cantering out of it before trotting. This was a first for him and he did it perfectly twice! He is really making progress with  his canter. If I could ride it better he'd really be getting somewhere! I was over steering and when I stopped doing that he steered beautifully. His transitions were so prompt I almost didn't go with them. Yesterday he picked it up so quickly I missed it, as in flopped backwards as he tried to canter. Yikes! My poor horse. I think I was expecting another trot step or two, but he's going to canter right away. This is  such a fun time with him. I'm going to write a post just about him now, at 5. I want to remember this summer with him when he's older. I adore him.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Doug and I Have a Lesson with Joan

Doug and I both had a lesson with Joan before we went to our Harley Club camping weekend on Fri. We both had good lessons. Doug and Savanah are getting ready to compete on the Labour Day weekend (I'm volunteering). They worked on cantering and transitions. It went well, except that Doug won't believe Joan and I that HE is the one at fault when Savanah doesn't go where he wants. I'm going to have to video tape them so he'll see for himself.
Rogo and I had our first introduction to collection. Of course we won't do collection for a long time - this was just to introduce the idea - get him to use his hind end a little more and come onto the bit. We did it on a circle, at walk and trot. Joan had me push with my seat and legs, while vibrating the reins, and rolling my hands under or taking a bit if needed. We just asked for a few steps, maybe five or six. He responded nicely and Joan thought he did well. He lifted  his forehand ever so slightly and brought his head up and in, while using his hind quarters a bit more. We are only to practice it in very small amounts, a few steps.
We did a canter each way, and they were probably his best ever - nice transition at the first quiet ask, no rushing, steered nicely into and out of a good 20 m cicrle, etc. I wouldn't go so far as to say he was round, but it's moving in the right direction.
We had coffee afterward. Joan is wondering about Rogo's forwardness, or lack of. He was fine in our lesson, but very draggy at his last show. He was always a little on the lazy side until last spriong, starting early in April. He became so forward - it was amazing and wonderful. It went away again after 3 months, so I don't know what started it or why it stopped. There are so many variables - he gets more turn out at home (but being in his stall a lot in the past didn't make him more energetic), he was getting more grain because he had gotten lean in a growth spurt during that time, the weather is a lot warmer now, he may be growing again now (hind end is up a bit) which takes their energy I'm told, etc., etc. 
I'm GLAD he was quiet for his first shows, or I wouldn't have enjoyed taking him, but we'll have to look into nutrition, etc. if he gets too laid back.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lesson WIth Cheryl

We had a pretty good lesson today. We worked at walk trot canter transitions, with canter thrown in randomly. He held his canter, but was very flat and fast. We need to work on that. We reviewed our goals for July (late) and we met most of them - yeah!
We also worked on his connection and position, and it is slowly improving. By the end of the lesson, he was doing a nice trot in a more round frame. I'm very happy with him. He's learning to try instead of push back. He's also very bonded to me and me to him. Taking him to shows made me firmer with him about manners, etc., for safety's sake, but if anything he's sweeter than ever. I can't get enough of him. I could stay and visit with him for hours if I had time.
We are starting leg yield and he doesn't really get it yet, although he'll get a few steps if you stick with it.
I find that I forget my outside rein contact, which I worked so hard to achieve, when I start focusing on new things. I have to remember to keep all the pieces together. Also, I have to keep him straight or flexed to the inside when on straight lines. He doesn't listen to my legs as well when straight as he does in a corner.
Doug wanted me to do some canter work with Savanah after his lesson, and I rode Dan bare back after cleaning the stall (we worked on 20 m walk trot circles, forwardness and roundness), so I rode all three horses today. I'm tired!

July Training Goal Results and Aug. Goals, 2010


Training area
Achieved June 30
Goal, July 31
Goal, Aug. 31
Contact (accepting contact with the bit)
Working trot







Free walk
Straight on center line
Precise transitions
Leg Yield - new



We didn't review until today, Aug. 19, so there is only two weeks left until we review again. He moved up a number in several areas this time, so we aren't pushing for much more in two weeks. We did add leg yield to the list.

Don't loose the outside rein focus as I start to focus on other things! (There is a lot of focus on connection right now.)

Keep using legs and get him listening to steering with my legs more on straight lines, as he does in corners.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting Better Connection

My last ride on Rogo was just before dark two nights ago. The moon was getting bright as we worked on our goals - it's a great time to ride. The flies were gone, the heat had somewhat subsided and Rogo didn't seem to mind the dark corners.
I wanted to see if I could reproduce the results I got with Megan, and it worked! It really helped to see someone else ride him, which never happens. Rogo was so ready for this next step, I just needed to see it done. I don't want to sound overly confident, there is lots of room for improvement, but he basically gets it (position, connection). He doesn't always do it, matter of fact it comes and goes ALOT, but he gets it. A correction doesn't result in a long drawn out struggle of trying to convey what you're asking for - a stronger feel on the reins with a push from seat and legs, a little tap with the whip and a bend, and he'll usually go back to connecting with the bit and a better frame.
After we warmed up and got in the groove of working together it was wonderful - almost dark, moon floating overhead and a forward, floating horse under me who went correctly in a feather light contact much of the time. It was one of those gifts life throws you once in awhile. I'll probably be writing about a new problem tomorrow, but let me enjoy this moment :)
Doug was calling to us to come in because it was so dark, but I had to keep going for a few more minutes. We finished with good canters in each direction (possibly his best ever to the right), and then a bit of stretching trot and walk. A good night.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Megan Is Amazing

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.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lesson With Cheryl

Rogo and I had a lesson with Cheryl two days ago. I think it went pretty well. We reviewed our test scores and comments from the recent show and determined to continue focusing on connection and forwardness. Unfortunately we forgot to update our monthly goals, so we'll do by phone or do it next week.
We did quite a bit of longing work, much of it over cavalletti, and by the end of it Rogo was picking up and lengthening through them quite nicely. He seems to enjoy this, so after our last week training blitz and show, it was a bit more fun for him.
I'm still coming out of the saddle too much in posting trot a lot of the time, especially when I get in the show ring and am a little more tense. Cheryl worked with me to identify the feeling of using my calf muscles without my thigh muscles, so that when I put my calves on I don't inadvertently tighten my thighs as well and push myself out of the saddle. She did this with me on the longe line until I was doing it correctly (it will take a lot more work until it becomes muscle memory) and then we did it sitting in a chair in the kitchen. I was amazed when sitting in the chair to discover how much I'm using my thighs when I think I'm just using my calves. And I was even more amazed at how I popped up in the air when this happened :)
The weather is idealic, the horses are happy and sweet - life is good!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It Was An Amazing Weekend

Rogo's second competition (his first gold show) was great. It was one of the most fun weekends I've had in ages. He didn't do quite as well the second day as the first, scoring high 50's once (he was so lacking in forwardness I thought he was just going to stop at one point - bad riding on my part) and low sixties once. The thing he starred in was being well behaved. He was as steady, quiet and sweet as Savanah. One woman fell in love with him and spent about an hour at his stall door with him nuzzling and being sweet to her.
We got one first and three seconds for the weekend. There were more marks in the 50's than 60's I think. This was an FEI judge, and she had high expectations, which was good.
I can't believe I had the nerve to take him to a gold show at this point, but I'm glad I did. We didn't embarass ourselves and it really helped me realize where we need to focus our energy - connection! Bending was our last big push. Connection has to be the next.
I got tense in the warm up ring this morning and now my back is twinging - yikes! I must be careful or I'll be out of commission for days. There was no reason to be nervous because Rogo was absolutely bomb proof in there today, but there were a large number of horses and at one point we were in the midst of this cantering pack and I got tense. Rogo had only been in with one other horse at a time, and one he knew, before he went to the last show so this is still very new to him.
Just to note some things I want to remember - the judge told me Rogo is a very nice horse, I need to work on connection and moving freely forward, Rogo got too relaxed when he was on deck.
I need to decide whether to take him in the Labour Day show in Windsor. Doug and Savanah will enter.
Doug and I are lucky to have a trailer with living quarters and we like to camp. The horse show grounds at CNHP in Salmon River are wonderful. There is woods all around and it's so nice to be there in the evening barbecuing, visiting with other riders, etc. I heard a pack of coyotes the first night. There must have been a lot of them and it was like they were singing.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rogo's Second Show

Rogo is being checked by the stewart in this picture. Turns out he wasn't keen on having his bit checked the second time. I had to get off. This was just about the worst thing he did, so I guess that isn't too bad.
He laid down in his stall for a sleep between his classes, that were only 2 hours apart. I loved getting both my tests over with in the morning.
I thought I was going to get quite a low mark for my firt test because I rode it so conservatively (slowly), so was pleased with a 62.3. For our next test I felt him really come together for mein the warm up - forward, round, responsive, bending. I thought we did a good test and would increase our mark, but we dropped to 61. You just can't tell. We got a first and a second.
The judge gives very helpful comments.
Hope tomorrow goes equally well. Can we squeak out a tiny increase?

-- Sent from my Palm Prē

Rogo and I are doing Walk Trot B & C (Intro) at the gold show in Truro this weekend. He has been soooo good. Loaded and unloaded like a dream, settled in, a star in the warm up ring re behaviour and he won a 1st and 2nd today, scoring lowish sixties. The judge is FEI and not giving any breaks to warmbloods, which I love. There are many breeds here.
Doug isn't competing and is feeling quite bad about it. I've ordered his gold liscence and passport.

-- Sent from my Palm Prē

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Picture As Promised - The Miracle Strap

-- Sent from my Palm Prē

I told Jeni I'd upload a photo of the strap discussed in yesterday's post. Pretty basic, and now everyone can see my messy barn. My barn is usually neater than my house, but not today (of course this isn't saying much). 

I hold the strap and rein at the same time, with my right hand, to support left turns. It's a huge help. I had no idea something so simple could have such an impact. 
It rained HARD all day, but just before dark it stopped and the ring was dry enough for a soggy walk trot session. After longing I skipped the small circles in the corners that we've been doing for warm up, because it seemed it  might rain again. We just did 20 m walk and trot circles before doing a couple of tests. This didn't work as well. Note to self: do corner circles in warm up!
Then we practiced trailer loading and I was pleasantly surprised. After that sudden bout of excited, wanting to bolt off the trailer behavior he had in July he's back to calm, sweet, amble on and off Rogo. Sprinkler Bandit suggested he could have had ulcers which caused the sudden personality change at that time. I have to research that a bit. Can they come and go without treatment? Hopefully he stays the way he was tonight. 
Dan and Savanah had the day off. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Week of Intensity Continues

I set a goal this week of riding Rogo everyday and really focusing, focusing, focusing on our training goals. I've done everything I can think of to help us - videoing, longing, memorizing and riding tests with strategy, trying to ride every step, using half halts (he's just learning these), putting a strap on the front of my saddle to keep my outside rein steady when bending (I held it when necessary to keep from giving too much), exercising (for me), pushing a little harder / asking for a little more from both of us. 
I see some improvements. We were almost there in some key areas so a real push helps to confirm it. I can't help feeling I'll jinx us if I write it, but I think our left bend has finally arrived to stay! It's been a marathon - for months it's come and gone, gotten confused, gotten tense, etc. Now he's going into the corners and bending through his body at the walk and trot, while staying soft. 
His head is still high and stiff fairly frequently on the long side at the trot, but it's gotten better this week and I have to get my riding softer too, in order for him to relax. It's coming.
Cantering is improving. He's carrying it much better, although the transitions back slid a bit. The steering is coming too. He's doing 20 m circles, which he just started about 10 days ago. It won't be long before he'll be able to do a decent training level test. 
I know a trainer would have had him here sooner, but we have a great bond, I've learned tons, and he's making progress, so I'm happy.
Cheryl didn't make it today because she had hay coming, so we re-scheduled for tomorrow. I longed Dan over cavelleti and he did well. Doug and Savanah had a lesson scheduled for tonight, but now it's raining. Glad I got my ride in early.
Two more days left for my training blitz.

Monday, August 2, 2010

More Work With Rogo

I had a good ride on Rogo last night and again this morning, and got Doug to tape us both times. I'm on an improvement blitz! We're doing a basic warm up of longing, then walk, trot, small circles in corners, then riding walk trot (intro) B and C. Also a small amount of canter to keep him going with that.
In some respects he did his tests well last night - very forward, bending, etc., but his head was up a lot in his trot. I mean a lot. Yikes.
Also, he carried his canter, but again he didn't transition as well as he did in the past. Seeing my canter was an eye opener. I've been a little smug to myself in the past that my canter seat was deep and secure. I did TONS of bareback canter on Savanah before I backed Rogo in an attempt to strengthen my seat, both in the ring and on the trail. We even galloped bareback on the beach. I grew to absolutely love it and literally went for five months without using a saddle on her, riding a lot. Joan would make me put pennies under my butt at the canter and I never lost one. So imagine my surprise when watching myself canter on Rogo and seeing my ass coming on and off the saddle! I had no idea. I'm not used to warm blood movement and it's quite different so I have to re-learn my seat. Mind you it isn't terrible, but it isn't good for a green horse to have a rider that isn't helping things.
So I'm a big part of the problem. I knew I was - I knew my feel for his canter wasn't as strong and balanced as with Savanah and Dan, but I hadn't realized that I was losing contact with the saddle at times. It helped to see it, because today I sat much more deeply and stayed with him. There were only two strides where I came up a bit. I saw this on video so I'm not cheating! Guess what -  fairly good transitions, carrying and steering both ways. Yeah!
Also, he didn't poke his head out nearly as much in the trot today. I focused on trying to post as gently and quietly as I could, just rocking forward and back, and this really helped. Trouble is, I held him back and the trot was slow, not really a working trot. I have to put the two days' rides together now - forward, quiet posting, soft position,...
Another problem that cropped up today - he started fidgeting when we halted at X. He only really started practicing this move (center line and halt at X) a few days before our July 5 and 6 show, and took to it surprisingly easily. I haven't practiced it since then until now, but now I seem to have inadvertently done something to make him want to move. It's like he thinks we're about to do turn on the forehand, even though we haven't practiced that in weeks. I tried halting in different spots so he wouldn't anticipate X, but it didn't make a difference. The only thing that helped was taking my legs completely off and halting with just my reins. This of course isn't correct and not workable, but it tells me I must be doing something with my legs that I'm not aware of - Doug, get the camera and come in for a close up!
Tomorrow Cheryl comes. We'll measure July's goals and I think we're going to work on figure 8's. I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Amazing Art Work and Rogo's Latest Ride

I've found the most amazing art work, which you can see on the following blog:
Angela Swedberg
Here's just one example, where the artist incorporated horses she's owned or ridden, to whet your appetite for viewing:

Her art work is so interesting from both a cultural/heritage perspective and from an aesthetic perspective. As a rider she incorporates horses into much of her work. I contacted her to get permission to post the picture and link.

I rode Rogo just before dark yesterday. He was great - all the energy he lacked the day before was bottled up waiting for the next ride I think! He was forward, forward, forward. It makes soooo much difference. It is so much easier to get bend, a better head position, figures, etc. We started with longing. This always makes for a more energetic ride. I don't know why, but I can't seem to energize him from the saddle like I can when we start on the longe.
We practiced some walk trot tests and I concentrated on keeping my outside rein steady and solid, especially on the left where he needs the support for bend. We also practiced keeping a good marching pace at a free walk and staying straight on center line halts (this needs more work). He is transitioning back to walk from trot much more quickly now, even when he's forward, so I have to calculate this when planning where to give aids for test transitions. He's been pretty good for a while on walk to trot. I'm very pleased with how he did the tests. He was energetic and did the most correct bending and transitions that's he's done. The piece that needs improving is my riding of the tests. I'm still at a stage where I'm giving quite strong aids for some movements, like a left circle, in order to get a correct response. For example as the circle is nearing completion he tends to straighten or counter bend, even if we are continuing to circle. I give a tap with my whip on the inside, or a quick little kick, and he immediately goes back to a correct bend. I need to get it to where this isn't necessary. We have a few spots like that.
Now my goal is to ride the tests quietly. I got Doug to video tape us and I'm going to study it and tape it repeatedly for a few days, trying to get better riding and responses each time. I was kind of shocked to see my hands so far apart and high at times.
We did a left canter early in our ride and a right canter near the end. He didn't pick either up nicely (I had to push him, a quiet ask didn't work), but he carried it and steered (straight to circles) in both very well, doing a nice forward canter. How can I get back to the nice transitions, now that he is keeping his canter better? This seems so odd to me. It must be something I'm doing, but I can't figure out what I'm doing differently.