After I got our jogging exercises out of the way, it was time to move on to the lope. She's in much better shape than when we started and I can work her fairly hard for a good 20 minutes before she needs a breather. She worked SUPER in the snaffle today and I really do wish I could show in that thing... I think I'll work her more with the snaffle for a while and only switch bits a day or so before a show. At least while we're still doing a lot of training.
I've been trying to keep her off the rail when we lope. Up the middle and around the ends have been something we've done a lot of. We do normal figure eights too, but I like doing up the middle exercises because she has a hard time keeping a straight line... she gets all noodley without the rail or a circle to use as a crutch. It also keeps her a bit more on her toes and it's helping with the Anticipation Queen's need to anticipate our every move.
It has also been helping with her leads. She's spot on 90% of the time, but every now and then (I think when she's tired), she'll try to take the wrong lead. Going up the middle makes her listen to the cue, again, without using the circle and rail as a crutch for helping her determine which lead I asked for. She actually has to LISTEN for a change. It's quite nice really. The tight turns at the ends of the arena are good for her too. She's getting much better and making those turns smoothly.
After our up the middle exercises, we worked on figure eights. When I'm working on simple changes, I like to use the circles. I'll switch leads and circles every other time, or every three times, just so she doesn't think we're changing in the middle every time.
Sometimes I think she uses her brain too much. Just let me tell you what to do, Lilly... it's so much easier for both of us!
She actually did a flying change on her own today, although it was ugly and full of attitude. There had been a couple times when she didn't switch to the correct lead, so I asked her to come back down again, and then she'd pick it up when I asked the next time. The time she did the flying change, I sat deep, asked for the trot stride, then asked for the right lead and she didn't change. As I was repeating the process, she flung her head up, swished her tail, pinned her ears, and did a flying change. It's almost like she screamed at me, "I KNOW, WOMAN!! DANG!!"
It gives me hope that she understands what's going on, but perhaps just can't always figure out exactly how to do it yet. She has been tricky for me to train sometimes because I don't always know the best way to ask her for stuff. Certain things work right away, and other times I really have to try over and over again in different ways. So hopefully she understands me! She definitely tries hard and wants to please so I reward any effort on her part so she knows she's doing the right thing.
I get a much better lope out of her when we're circling, and her left lead lope has come along quite nicely. She's still a bit unbalanced and is quite a bit faster on her right lead, but that's always been her more difficult way.
I was very happy with her today and look forward to another good ride tomorrow!