Starting a young horse is a looooong process. I went from riding awesome Aron, the schoolmaster, to riding Willow, a barely-backed four-year-old who didn't stop or steer, and who bucked me off regularly when I was putting the canter in. I also spent a good eighteen months convincing Willow she was able to carry her head somewhat higher than knee level. This past winter I was starting to despair that Willow would ever carry herself in canter, or shorten her canter stride.
This past month, though, we are finally getting to the good stuff! It's so much fun! Today I ran Willow through everything she can do, and I realized the list is getting long! Walk-canter-walk is coming right along. Shoulder-in and travers are confirmed at trot. She's able to maintain a few strides of haunches-in in canter. I can get a respectable half-pass in trot in both directions, although I usually just ask for three or four strides and straighten. Turn on the haunches is not bad. I can get a ten-meter canter circle every so often. Collected canter left is awesome; to the right it's starting to come.
And she felt so good today, I officially started asking for flying changes coming off the diagonal into the corner. I didn't get any today, but I was pleased with how quiet Willow stayed, and I could feel her thinking about the question I was posing. Twice she dropped to trot for two steps and picked up the new lead, so she's got the idea.
On another topic, it's blackberry season. Blackberries are a menace in Oregon. They grow wild and are invasive. I don't actually have any blackberry bushes in my backyard, but my next-door neighbor seems to have an entire backyard full of them, and they've gotten so big they're cascading over the fence into my yard. I went out and picked blackberries for fifteen minutes last weekend so my brother's family and I could have blackberry shortcake for our picnic. Here was my haul, and I wasn't even trying: