Last weekend two things happened for the first time since December. First, the rain was back with a vengeance. Good thing Cupid's new pasture has a covered area! Second, Cupid and I had a lesson. We are starting with a new trainer who focuses primarily on jumpers and eventers. I told him about Cupid's background and the lessons started out with him observing us for a few minutes. Then he started calling out instructions and pointers. Just a few little tweaks helped tremendously! Instead of thinking about "shoulders back" think "chest open." Instead of "sit up straight" think "sit back on your butt." He gave a tip on corners to point my inside hip towards Cupid's outside ear, and Cupid seemed to really understand this and was bending his body much better through the turns! It is almost crazy to think how responsive this thousand pound animal is to a small shift in the riders weight. We ended the lesson with a little right lead canter work, and for the first time instead of loping around the entire arena we stayed in a much more balanced canter on a circle. Having a trainer really helps with my focus and discipline, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Cupid and I will progress.
For our second lesson, we continued to work on my position as well as bending/turns. Our trainer set up some cone to mark a 20 meter circle, as well as two 10 meter circles for a figure eight. We started out walking the figure eight, focusing on using my legs/seat instead of hands to make sure Cupid didn't stray too far off the track as well as bending his body properly. As always, going to the left was more difficult. Then once we got the hang of it we did it at a trot. The circles were smaller then what I usually do and I wasn't sure we could make it at the trot, but we did. Often times Cupid can do more then I expect of him, and having the trainer is very helpful to me to push us both a little more. We cantered the 20 meter circle, focusing on getting a better departure without a quickening trot. We tried the left lead, but couldn't pick it up in a few attempts and Cupid was getting a little flustered and high-headed. The trainer said we should not force it today and went back to the trot circles until Cupid was settled and ended up with one more right lead canter. Cupid cantered the circle beautifully, and it was the best and most balanced canter I've done on him yet! Unfortunately the trainer recommended lunging on a loose side rein, a short session each time before I ride as often as I can. It is not a favored activity for either Cupid or I but I'll give it a try.