As per usual, we worked on getting him off the left rein and moving away from my left leg. Walk and trot “squares” have been really helpful, because that gets his shoulders moving and makes me ride with an actively supportive inside leg. We’ve been working on shoulder in and leg yields, with varying degrees of success. To the left (moving away from my right leg), he’s responsive and tries, although we can’t consistently hold the angle and straightness. To the right (moving away from my left leg), it’s a different story.
Here’s what it feels like to ride it:
Imagine you’re going straight down centerline, prepping to leg yield right. Your horse is straight; you can see it in the mirror. You relax your right hip and nudge with your left leg, asking him to move away. Instead, he throws his haunches in left (the damn mirror doesn’t lie), and then he starts half-passing left, INTO your leg pressure! It’s the EXACT opposite of what you’re asking for, so you bump him with your left leg. He straightens, and you bump again. He throws his shoulders right, flexes his neck left (despite a steady right rein), and sort of drifts over to the right. Bah! You’re out of space in the arena, time to try a shoulder in to the right, down the long side. Only, all you get is haunches in! You pony-club kick with your left leg and he straightens out, but no amount of begging, pleading, and kicking can get his shoulders away from the wall. You drop back into the walk and sort of manage to make it happen as you crawl down the long side.
We went over body position. I’m not the greatest rider out there, but we made sure I wasn’t hampering from moving right. We know his right hind is the less strong leg, so crossover that direction is hard for him. Still, he was just NOT getting it. So we worked on other things – stretchy circles (we might actually have one, sort of!) switching between posting and sitting trot, canter departs, canter-trot transitions (for now, I am to do canter-walk except in tests so he doesn’t get too “bargey” going into the trot), strechy canter circles… and then at the end of the lesson we went back to laterals.
As we came down centerline for the umpteenth time, I cued for a right leg-yield… and something in his little brain must’ve clicked. He started crossing over INSANELY much. Granted, we were doing more of a messy half-pass (with bonus haunches leading right) instead of a leg yield, but HE WAS MOVING AWAY FROM MY LEFT LEG. We actually made it to the rail just after B, and the crossover I could see in the mirror was something I’ve never ridden before. It was one of those moments where you can just feel the horse do magic things under you, and you hope it never ends. Jeanne was yelling “Yes, YES!” from the rail and I was telling him “Good Boy!!!” with every step. I could tell he was SO pleased with himself, it was as if he was saying “See mom? I get it! I finally get it!” We quit on that, amongst lots of pats and praise. What a good pony!
What it felt like