Gathered up Ransom, with a plan. My decent weekend rides have been less in frequency, and I've decided that, rather than have a lot of "goof off days" where I repeat the same old same old, knowing I want to get better & do more, I need to have useful rides with a purpose.
I had intentions on riding Western, on a loose rein, and trot all over the arena, staying on a loose rein. No matter what Ransom gave me for a trot, I was going to ride it, staying at trot, on a loose rein. I've been fussing and fiddling with him, trying to keep him soft & easy, for a few weeks now. It's not been going well.
The change worked. He was inconsistent at the trot, but wasn't going off in his own direction. We worked every possible direction, and put hoofprints nearly everywhere in the arena. Lots of direction changes, but not many transitions. I asked him for trot, and left him go.
When I got to the barn end of the arena one time (headed down the long side 'headed home'), I thought, o O ( Oh why not. Let's pick up a canter in the corner, canter a few circles. What could he honestly do bad? If I fall, I'll dust off & get back up. He's been a saint every ride, never bucked or kicked, never thrown his head. I'm gonna try it. ) O o
It was phenominal. I know my seat wasn't great, I know I wasn't sitting pretty, but the ride was awesome. We cantered about three big circles, and I thought about heading down the long side away from the barn & staying in canter. As I did, Ransom must've thought I wasn't ready. He broke to a trot about two strides down the long side, and stayed at the trot for a while after. I left him go, just being happy I got some canter in.
Since I did left canter, and he's better right, I did the same thing headed right at the barn end of the arena. This direction was much better, of course, and he was more compliant to turn & stay easy. :)
*Whew* Canter accomplished. It was in my western saddle, holding me in, but except for the transition, I wasn't death-grip on the saddle horn. I was grabbing it for the up transition, but quickly gathered up reins loose, and stayed pretty much out of his face for the gait.
Total work about 45 minutes. A fantastic ride! I was a bit more than down about the thought of riding Saturday, as I had to choose Ransom over other activities. That was the first time I chose my riding over something else, and I was upset about it. I have a commitment to Ransom (& Romeo), and I have to keep it.