I think I have found the secret to improving Fling’s canter AND her flying changes. It’s called STRAIGHTNESS. Over time, little by little, in an effort to avoid carrying weight on her weaker right hind, she started swinging her left leg, and sometimes her entire haunches, to the left when going to the right. And vice versa going left. I had gotten so used to it, I really didn’t notice it – except in flying changes, when she often would be terribly crooked – mostly swinging her haunches to the left.
So I started working on breaking this habit. I really did not think it meant she was sore, or off, or had any issue with the right hind except that she’d been doing it for so long to avoid the work, her right hind had gotten even weaker. So in addition to working on keeping her straighter – canter departs on a straight line, really THINKING about where her haunches were at all times and immediately correcting her when I felt the LEAST bit of crookedness, I also went back to my right hind strengthening exercises. Those included doing extreme leg yields (head to the wall along the long side and almost parallel leg yields), turns on the haunches, haunches in and half pass. She has gotten so good at the head to the wall leg yields and she feels like a million bucks while doing them – completely in self carriage and super through. I want to get that feeling in all of our work.
In about two weeks I really started feeling a difference in her canter. The “throughness” that I just couldn’t seem to find again was starting to come back bit by bit. So, last night I thought maybe we were ready to revisit the flying changes.They started out straighter, but the more ‘excited’ and jazzed up she got, the more crooked they became. So, instead of accepting it like I always had in the past – I – gasp! – corrected her. That elicited more excitement and back up, head down ‘bouncing’ up and down for a few strides after each correction. Finally she got the message, and the changes actually GOT STRAIGHTER and cleaner. By golly, I think we’re onto something here!!
Now if it would just stop raining for a bit. I am not complaining – really – after the horrendous drought of last year, I swore I would not complain about rain ever again. But I am reenergized about my riding and really wanting to get back on track with all my horses. It’s been raining for almost two weeks now – not every day – but enough to be disruptive. I also a in the middle of moving my parents from their home to an assisted living facility and that’s taken up the last three weekends, and I have about two more to go before they’re moved in, the estate sale has taken place, and I’ve gotten the house cleaned out and ready for closing. I need a vacation!