Thursday night was lesson night! The boys are coming along so well! Huey and I worked some travers in canter. I haven't really schooled this on him so he was somewhat perturbed. "Why would you want me to do THAT? I think a flying change is called for," was his response at first. A little bucking was the next response. Then he settled and we got a few nice lines in each direction. Poor man is such an overachiever -- if he would just wait and really listen, none of these movements are even hard for him. It's just that TB brain of his. But I do love me a TB brain, so we'll get there eventually. We also worked trot shoulder-in to diagonal to shoulder-in and he was a rock star. By far the biggest improvement over the last year is Huey's increased ability to quickly re-focus after a meltdown, without absolutely requiring a free walk to gather his thoughts.
A couple weeks ago, Camilla was schooling some jumps on Flash, and as they came across the diagonal into a corner, Flash just up and switched leads, neat as a pin. So Camilla and her two trainers (Carrie Ann in jumping and Leslie in dressage) have decided to go ahead and begin working on changes with Flash. At the lesson Thursday night, Leslie had Camilla start with, on the long side, true canter, trot, counter canter, trot, true canter. Flash was very obedient in this exercise. After a couple lines, Camilla asked for a flying change, but every time Flash sneaked a trot step into it. He's too smart for his own good.
Next they put Flash on a 20-meter circle in counter-canter, which blew his mind. He got all discombobulated, legs flying every which way. Good thing Camilla has an eventer's seat! Flash did switch in front a couple times on the circle, but he seemed claustrophobic about the exercise.
Finally, they tried good old-fashioned changes across the diagonal, and in this exercise at first Flash kept the counter-canter around the short side; then he started switching behind in the corner and switching in front after three or four strides. Then there was a diagonal where he absolutely launched himself at the ceiling, and Leslie and I were so sure he was going to switch, but he faked himself out! Finally, on the next diagonal he offered a lovely, clean, exuberant change, and then it was walk, long rein, lots of praise! What a good boy.
I love watching a horse be introduced to flying changes. You can often really see the wheels turning as they try to figure out what's being asked for. And it's so interesting to see which exercise finally results in that little light bulb between their ears!