I've been training on my own for a year and a half now. It's the first time I've gone so long without lessons, and with a young horse, no less. Every so often I think about participating in a clinic, but then I think, I'll wait until the canter departs are better. Then, I'll wait until the trot lengthening is better. Then, I'll wait until counter canter is in. Then, I'll wait until the changes are in. And then I realize I'm steadily accomplishing these things on my own (well, except for the changes, but they're coming!)
Part of my reluctance to take lessons is financial, but a bigger part is simply that, after fourteen years of training, I was curious to see if I could bring along a young horse on my own. I lucked out with Willow, who is by and large an agreeable girl, and so far I feel like things are going well.
While I was in Texas, I took two short lessons on Sterling with Wolfgang. He pointed out two bad habits I've developed: giving in the canter depart, and letting my left hand cross slightly over the wither when circling to the right. I've ridden Willow twice since getting back, and I really concentrated on fixing these two habits. The canter departs immediately became crisp and uphill, and small circles to the right got much easier. Just goes to show that I can definitely use eyes on the ground every so often!
Wolfgang also watched a video of me on Willow and said, as I knew he would, "It's time to bring her up in front!" So that's the other thing I'm focusing on. Willow's wondering what's going on, but overall she's not protesting too much. She's a little tight in the new frame, but she's always tense about changes. If she's still tight after two weeks I'll re-evaluate, but for now I'm going to stick with the higher frame and work on building the muscles at the base of the neck. The canter feels just super -- collected and adjustable. Ten meter circles, here we come.
Wolfgang and Suzanne gave me a gift: a lovely whip for work in hand. How many of you think TSA will let you bring a four-and-a-half-foot whip through airport security? (Luckily, I expected it might be a problem, so Ted came into the airport with me and took the whip back out with him, to be shipped to me at a later time.)