Sorry I've really slacked on writing about my lessons. I think it's time to get back to a little bit of that, as it helps me retain what I've learned better.
So tonight we rode to music! It was fun, but rather challenging. It was hard to keep Louie slow enough to match the rhythm, but maintain his "motor." My favorite song that we rode to tonight was "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen. It had a nice swingy rhythm and wasn't overly fast. It was a perfect song to think of while riding the sitting trot.
We worked a lot on leg yielding at the sitting trot. Louie tends to lift his neck and lose his "roundness" when I put a leg on to ask him to go sideways, so I've got to insist that he says round (if his head comes up, my hands come way up and wide (but SOFT) like I'm holding onto monkey bars or a big Harley. Then I relax them down and ask him to reach down and take up contact. I need to do this before I put my leg on, just to remind him that he needs to stay round. Then I use a light intermittent leg, with maybe just laying the whip behind my calf to help keep him going. I need to stop the sideways motion and direct him forward a few times on each diagonal too to make sure he isn't just running sideways and not staying between the aids.
We worked a little bit on stretchy trot as well, with the same concept of lifting the hands if he lifts his head, and then lowering them and asking him with the leg and whip to come up over his back and into the hand. Another thing we did was slowing him down with the whip- not very intuitive, but when Louie would start to rush, I would add a little bit of calf, and lay the whip behind my leg (then use more outside leg to prevent him from throwing his haunches away from the whip), a lot of stomach and a fair amount of hand up high and wide. Julie said it is okay for me to use my reins to slow him down (think: create a boundary) if I've got the forward aids on as well- to push him into the front boundary from the hind end and maintain the engagement and contact.
Our half halts were pretty good tonight. We've been trying to keep really light aids with the half halt coming from my epigastric area, not my entire abdomen. I've been doing light repeated half halts to get him to slow down and halt- and this is helping a lot with keeping his head low and into the contact during the halt and downward transitions.
After we mastered the sitting trot shoulder-in and leg yielding work, we worked a bit on our canter. We got a couple of really nice moments in the canter- one super prompt depart right with my inside seat bone, and two times we had a very night right lead canter from sitting trot (which lasted about 5 strides before Louie broke into two pieces, got heavy on the forehand, and I started my "wiggly back).
Overall it was a good lesson, we had some really super moments and made some improvements!