Before heading off to spend Christmas with the family, I was able to fit in two fantastic riding lessons. We started off with a jumping lesson on Friday, putting another test ride on the Amerigo. My foot handled this ride a little better, & we jumped through a little gymnastic with the final oxer eventually being hiked up to 4 foot! Naturally, I didn't have any type of recording device with which to capture the event. Just my luck. Anywho, Cadence popped the 4' oxer a few times like it was nothing, but caught me in the butt once when she kicked up behind; I was surprised at how much it hurt... After the gymnastic, we jumped through a fun exercise with two oxers set 3 strides apart. You canter through the line, then ride a figure eight, taking both oxers on an angle. Cadence was a pro, and handelled it beautifully. There was one rider-induced screw up( rode a poor line/bad turn on the in to the 3 stride) which resulted in her catching a rail, but all things considered it could have been a lot worse. Overall though, it was a fantastic lesson.
The next day we had a dressage lesson in which we focused on Cadence's lateral work (mostly leg-yield in the trot & shoulder-in) and canter transitions. We did some nose-to-wall leg yields, & focused on keeping all her feet in the right place in the shoulder/haunches-in. She's caught on to the lateral work like a forest fire, and its been fun to watch her progress so rapidly. I however have some catching up to do in that department, as I feel like I'm inhibiting her progress.
The canter transitions are something that Cadence struggles with a bit more, as she really prefers to just run through my aids and go flying into a runaway trot. As fun as that may be, I personally prefer it when she sits back and flats into a collected trot. However, 90% of the time Cadence wins. We started to address this by spiralling in on a circle (at the canter) and riding our canter-trot transition on the smaller circle. We'd then spiral back out, getting her into my outside rein, and pop back into the canter. This was a great exercise, and was quite helpful for a while. But recently, serpentines with simple changes on the center line have proven to be a far more effective means of acheiving balanced transitions. I can't quite figure out why- maybe its the quick pace, or the constant changes of bend- but with this exercise we executed some truly beautiful transitions... probably our best transitions yet. I also discovered that her trot-canter transitions (which were weaker than her canter-trots in the summer) have become absolutely lovely! When I have her nicely balanced, that is.
So in the dressage, the areas that we're pushing are mostly the lateral work, and improving the quality of the canter & transitions. I'd love to get some dressage video footage soon, since the work is feeling good but I have this awful feeling that it feels way better than it looks. Ah well. Mehaps I can cajole some family members into coming to film crew for me ;)