Sigh... I love Fleck. I do.. He really is my favorite. But man is he frustrating. And it's not his fault. It's my doing. 11 years of riding him like I have been have created some very bad habits in us both. And when we need to fix them, it's frustrating. I get annoyed with myself because I can't get it to work right and annoyed with him because he's not doing it right. But.... we're making progress. I just need to stop and think sometimes.
Today Fleck was so not laterally supple. He just didn't want to loosen up. Cindy was giving us exercises to try to get him to let go through his topline but it was not going well. I ended up hanging on the left rein because he kept popping that left shoulder out and just bending at the base of his neck, instead of through his back and ribs. Cindy calmly talked me down. She said that of course he is throwing out his left shoulder... he's not yielding at the girth on the right side. BUT... hanging on the left rein isn't going to solve it. The problem stemmed from the lack of bend at the ribs on the right. So she said that yes... I did need to fix the left stiffness, but I needed to get in and get out and not give him the crutch to hang on. And to focus more on getting the bend at the ribs. Ah... yes. I know... I KNOW THIS! But I get caught up in the old body habits. Argh. So once I let go of the left rein and softened and just suppled instead of hanging, it made a big difference. Tracking right I need to ride him shoulder in at all times. And even think a little bit about shoulder in and haunches in at the same time.
We swapped to the left to let his right side rest and wow!! We got an amazing left lead canter. :) It was awesome.
I just need to remember to breathe and think things through. Find the culprit and address it rather than just tugging at the glaring problem.