We made significant progress with Julie's help, both Lance and I. After warming up we worked on basics for awhile. My feet tend to hover in the stirrups, so Julie had me work on keeping my knees more relaxed so I could drop my leg down and back. I needed the usual reminders to keep my hands on their own sides of Lance's neck; I have a bad habit, particularly when we're tracking right, of bringing my right hand too near or even across the withers. It is an incorrect reaction to Lance's right-side stiffness, and counterproductive. Another "basics" habit I need to be reminded of is to always give my hands forward in the transitions.
Lance had some basics to take responsibility for as well. First and foremost for him is to be – and stay –forward. He is such an energy conserver! And I sometimes fall into the trap of "continuous encouragement." Julie reminded me that it really is kinder, as well as much more effective, to get after him with an "8 or 9" correction once and be done with it for awhile rather than nagging. Other times, particularly when I am asking him to transition from a free walk to a collected walk, he tries to trick me into taking my legs off by jigging. Instead, he needs to accept my legs, gather his energy in the walk, and be "available." Only then is he ready and able to transition correctly from walk to canter, something we worked on in our lesson. Lance did not like my asking him to work that hard and expressed his opinion by kicking out a few times, but then he got over it and really tried. Woohoo!
We also worked on baby canter/counter-canter serpentines. Lance and I were both struggling even though we do full figure-eights in each lead at home. Lance assumed we were going to cross the diagonal with the first turn out of the corner, and I was not dealing with his brace successfully until Julie instructed me to keep him in a slight haunches-in. Bingo; success!
A funny aside; after our first successful serpentine execution, the three observers in the corner – who had been there all along – cheered, and Lance spooked. We all burst out laughing over that. One of those observers took a photo of us with my camera:
He's the same friend who took the photo of Russell and me in the header, BTW.
I was going to give Lance the day off today, because he worked so hard and got sooo tired yesterday (his one-horse melodrama also made everyone laugh). But last night's forecast didn't predict many dry periods this week, so I decided to ride this morning while I could. Lance was a rock star!