Sunday afternoon as I was schooling a couple shallow counter-canter loops in each direction, Willow volunteered a lovely, balanced flying change from right to left at X. I cantered in the new lead for three strides, halted, gave her many pats, and let her walk on a long rein for a bit. It was her first flying change where she didn't leap three feet into the air.
The second-level conundrum: how hard to school the counter canter? Of course, we all know you never punish a flying change, no matter what the circumstances, but the question is how much do you reward it when you're trying to confirm the counter canter? I'm of the school of thought that says: reward like crazy. Unfortunately, most people in this school of thought already have their bronze medals :) I, on the other hand, still have to slog through second level before getting to the fun stuff.
I've read advice that says, just school counter canter and flying changes concurrently! Easier said than done, IMO. Second-level counter canter is pretty darn challenging for the horse, and once they discover--hey, I can just switch!--it's hard to unbake the cake.
This conundrum falls into the category of "good problem to have." If nothing else, it's a sign that Willow's balance in the canter has, indeed, improved. I do wish there was some way to provide an allowance for accidental changes during second level.
I'm currently sitting in the Denver airport waiting to board my plane to Bismarck, North Dakota. It turns out my brother is bringing along the whole clan to the funeral, so I'm going to get to meet my six-month-old niece, Chloe, for the first time tomorrow. I'll also get to see how much my two-and-a-half-year-old niece, Julia, has changed since last Labor Day.
After the funeral, I'm off to San Antonio for a conference, and then I'm hanging out with former clinician Wolfgang, his wife Suzanne, and friend Ted (whom Willow dumped in February) for a few days. Ted said I could get on his part-draft gelding Sterling. Perhaps Sterling will dump me in revenge.