Keenly aware that our 12 month "Cinderella Project" is drawing to a close, my focus for Forrest remains balance and strength. Consistent enough in the connection and straightness, I've introduced shallow leg yields...particularly those that oblige his left hind to do some of the heavy lifting in order to make his right canter departs easier for him. Picking up a relaxed and swinging trot, tracking left, we come through the first corner of the short side, then turn down quarter line, keeping his neck and shoulders straight, with the slightest of flexions to the inside, and work our way over. It's important for me to keep my outside leg on for impulsion and give my "over" aid with my inside leg as I rise in the post; the only time I can actively influence the inside hind just as it leaves the ground.
We do a couple of these in each direction. Then, to mix it up, we approach my embarrassingly warped trot poles (note to self: replace pronto!) just a few meters above the short side.
I got this idea from Conrad Schumacher, who said keeping your cavaletti here is a good idea because it doesn't get in the way of your short side or circle work and you can ride through them heading down centerline!
After boinging through the poles twice in each direction, I play with Forrest's adjustability down the long side, riding him up into the bridle, then change rein and ask him to stretch over his back as a reward.
All of this strengthening work, not counting his 15 minute warm up at the walk and trot, is a total of 10 minutes and that is more than enough for a 4-year-old's muscles and brain.
In order to fulfill our Cinderella Project, (the search, purchase, training and showing of a competitive dressage prospect purchased for no more than $1,000 in a year's time), I've begun to look around for local dressage shows...not as prevalent in the winter. And, truth be told, having given Forrest four months off immediately after purchasing him late last year to recover and let down from his racing career and to address his poor hoof angles and body soreness, we missed an awful lot of riding time and I'm not willing to over face him. So, unless he becomes confirmed in his right canter depart during the next couple of weeks, more than likely I will look for a Novice walk/trot class for him as a less stressful outing and attempt to get him off my property in the near future to hack him around new places.
And in the meantime, I've got Christmas shopping to do! While LubrisynHA equine supplement has become a much appreciated sponsor for Forrest and an early gift for me, he deserves his taste buds to be as happy as his joints. So off to the store for a bag of apples and carrots to go in all the horses' stockings!