Louie and I had another "lesson" with Sandy today. We worked on a repeat/re-do of last week's lesson in taking the right lead. Today, Louie showed us that he is very tight and needs to do some horsey yoga! We started off lunging to the right. We had been working on getting him to bend his head in toward the middle, but as he did for me on Wednesday in the mud, he lost the haunches and shifted those to the outside of the circle, so when we asked him to canter, he found it much easier to pick up the left lead with his haunches drifting to the left and out of the circle. He just kept shifting those haunches out of the circle until he was literally going sideways, then he would stop. Now of course Louie is too smart for his own good, and has quickly figured out that this is a good way to get out of work. So we had to change our tactics- we finally got a few right leads out of him by letting him pick up whatever lead he wanted (duh- the left?), then either getting him going in too tight of a turn to be stable on the wrong lead so he switched himself, or by kinda scaring him into the canter so he picked up the right lead. By the end of the lunge session he had taken the right lead (at least with his front legs) about 5 times. So now it's time to ride.
I hopped on and we walked for a while, then back at the lesson. I worked on getting him bent properly, and tried to concentrate on my form (looking to the middle of the ring, turning hips), and not dropping his face, then from the walk I cued him for the canter and off he went on the right lead (the second time I asked him- the first time he just trotted). Good boy! We tried it again and he got it again- yay! Change directions and try the other way quickly for some variety- he picked up the left lead beautifully and cantered a couple of laps while I worked on half-halts and urging him to keep moving forward in a more controlled, steady frame.
By now he has given up his lovely little loap that he did the first few times I cantered him and has been working on his Kentucky Derby tryouts- particularly at the ends of the arena. So one more time we wanted to try the right lead, so I changed directions, set him up and asked and oops- took the left lead. We just let him go for a bit- he started veering off the rail, aiming for the middle of the arena and gaining speed (oh this isn't looking good), I'm trying to balance him, slow him down, and turn him in attempts to at least cut the arena short cuz we're never going to make this tight of a turn at this speed- and the next thing I knew, we were about 2 feet closer to the ground, feet scrambling underneath us, and we came out of a near disaster on the right lead! Whew! Thank God we survived that one- without injuries nonetheless! And we even got the right lead out of it!
We cooled out by walking serpentines and small circles, working on bending the whole body and not loosing our caboose (the stable's instructor was giving a lesson in the beginning of Louie's lunge session- instructing her rider with train station vocabulary, so I thought this was fitting). It is quite clear that Louie is very stiff to the right and I need to work more on bending and probably need to do some tying around to the right- perhaps I need to find a yoga class for myself too! Well now that we have halfway decent footing at home I can get back to working on the bending and flexing between lessons. So that's my homework!