When Eli is really fresh (which is a lot lately), it’s easier just to let him canter around both ways a few times until I feel him accepting my leg and listening. It makes trotting slightly less bonkers. I basically turn into a human longe line. He never tries to go anywhere when I’m on him, at least.
So we have cantered. On Sunday and Monday, the canter was less than ideal — Eli felt stiff. To be expected, though, with rain interrupting riding plans every few days for months now. I didn’t get to ride on Tuesday because I worked late, but on Wednesday, the canter felt better.
We did canter quite a bit, but also worked on transitions. Eli likes to lean on the bit and poke his nose out in transitions, presumably to hollow his back and evade using his hind end (that’s what it feels like, anyway). So every time he did that, instead of finishing a downward transition, I kicked him back up a gait. “Kicked.” Ha, not literally with this horse, obviously. I have never tried this before, and I am not sure why I even thought to try it, but it worked! Perhaps it was knowledge buried deep in my brain from a dressage clinic a long time ago or something? More specifically, I think it was what Eli needed to experience, to understand what I was trying to ask in downward transitions. A downward transition is not a break, you still have to work at it. You still have to step uphill into a lower gait (not sure “lower” is the right word). I think maybe he hadn’t quite caught on to that yet, but he did last night. And THEN I rewarded him with a true break — neck rubs and reins to the buckle to stroll around. The more we did decent transitions, the better the canter got. Magical.
Eli stays expressive after work:
We had been getting better downward transitions in general, and then all this rain happened and riding became very sporadic and more of just exercise for us both than working on anything in particular. It is very frustrating, being stuck at work all day, knowing I could have ridden in the field even if the arenas are too sloppy because I would have daylight then. But it’s dark by the time I usually leave work. Anyway, I am interested to see how Eli is tonight under saddle.