Overall we are continuing forward progress, though did have some struggles this week.
Sunday - The scrape on Cupid's left hind leg was a little puffy. The scrape itself looked fine, no sign of infection. I cold hosed before our lesson, and we took it easy (mainly walk/trot) but Cupid felt fine. We practiced coursing over poles and cavaletti.
Monday - Day off.
Tuesday - We had one of our best lessons ever, everything just came together. For some reason I was much better about maintaining steady and even contact, which of course resulted in Cupid being soft and following my hands. Imagine that. :p The sitting trot is improving too; before I would have Cupid practically walking with his hind end so it would be easier for me to sit. I've been working on keeping my body relaxed, and not clamping down with my legs to lock myself in place but rather finding the place in my waist (is that correct?) to absorb the motion. Today I could really feel the difference. Even though the trot was slow I could feel there was impulsion. We also got the left lead canter most attempts; I think once or twice we got it wrong but were able to get it second ask. I wish I made notes because now I'm not remember the details of what all we did, but I do remember how amazing it felt!
Wednesday - After such a great ride Tuesday I was excited to continue where we left off the next day. I rode a bit earlier, so I could go in the dressage court. Cupid was a little looky on one end, though not bad. (Better than he usually is.) But we couldn't capture the same magic from the day before, and the left lead canter was a total disaster. I tried all the usual tricks to pick it up: from a circle go on a smaller circle and ask as I'm leg yielding back to the larger circle; ask in the corner; ask as I'm completing a 10 meter circle. We only got it once, and then Cupid tripped about a stride into it and broke into a trot, and then we couldn't get it again. He felt fine, I can't think of any physical reason but maybe he was just sore from the day before? And my trainer tells me I need to stay off my inside rein - that I am throwing his weight onto his inside shoulder thus making it easier for him to go on the right lead. I thought the problem was him not pushing off his right hind properly, but my trainer didn't think that was the case. She got on Cupid, and she was somewhat more successful than me but was still only about 50/50. After she did a short canter on him, I got back on and we decided to finish up with some trot work, which went well.
Thursday - I decided to give Cupid the day off, and see if it would help if he's a little fresh on Friday. Also met with my saddle rep to finally get the gaudy rhinestones off my dressage saddle! I'm so happy; I love how the saddle fits and now it will be perfect.
Friday - I'm getting the dressage saddle back today, so I rode in my close contact. My trainer asked if I wanted to jump, and I wasn't sure until I see how Cupid feels. I'm not sure it's really fair to ask him to jump, if there is a physical component to why he doesn't want to canter left. So we started our warm up, and Cupid was super pokey. He did trot when I asked, but it was pretty much the slowest trot ever. Like we could win a western pleasure class. I let him mosey around a few laps, and was almost thinking of throwing in the towel and just going for a walk around the property. My trainer told me to get in 2 point and I said that usually makes it worst, so we did it a lap and gave up. My trainer then suggested we canter, but I wasn't sure how that would happen. So I asked if we could trot over some cavaletti (on the lowest side) first and see if that wakes him up. She said to trot the caveletti in a large circle but with straight lines before and after, and if he lands in a canter keep cantering (haha, as if). We trotted it a few times, and it didn't really spark him too much but at least I felt like I could keep him going in a canter. So we cantered a few laps. I lost my inside stirrup, couldn't pick it up, so just gave up and did a lap with one stirrup before finally getting my foot back in. Then changed direction and got the left lead the second try and canter a little left.
We went back and cantered the caveletti, now flipped to the higher end, again in a large circle but with straight lines over. The first few jumps I felt a little floppy, especially with my lower body, but then I got into the swing of it. We started to the right, and for some reason Cupid kept landing on the left lead. So my trainer said next time encourage left lead and land and go left, but of course that time he landed right. Then we did a few little courses, with a mix of caveletti and cross rails. The coursing felt really good! Our rhythm was really good, Cupid was relaxed, and we were hitting the jumps right in stride. We still didn't get all the left leads the first try, but it was definitely better than Wednesday. I thought maybe because of the day off, and my trainer said also because I was riding on a bit longer rein, therefore not pulling on the inside as much.
I think I may experiment with only cantering every other day, with either a walk/trot day or day off in between until Cupid builds his strength and see if that helps. I'm also trying to get the chiro out.