Ransom had enjoyed a week off, due to his show performance, the weather, and then the subsequently soaked mushy arena. Wasn't a chance I was risking an injury riding in the mud, and the heat was unbearable last week anyways.
Hopped on "cold", and spent some time at walk, bending, flexing. Trotted a bit on a long rein before gathering him up. Did a large quantity of walk/halts, but Barb mixed it up for us. They were barely halt before moving on again. Less than a second stopped. When he started staying quiet & collected, then a one-second halt. Then a two-second halt. These improved the longer we did them. Need to lather, rinse, repeat over and over back at home.
Trot work was magical again. He started out stiff, bent to the outside, and short strides. After some rein work and body position reminders for me, he had the most amazing working trot. Things I need to focus on...
Soft lower back
Pulse the reins, then soften - don't release the reins to loose, just soften my hands & my arms
Shoulders still - but go back to soft lower back, not hunter-arched-stiff back
Canter wasn't even an issue - nothing really needed "fixing". More of the rein-pulse to keep him bent inside the circles. Really though, my rear end was glued in the saddle, the canter was *very* forward, but he had some amazing collection work in the gait. sweeet!
Barb proclaimed,"It's time to move on. You're ready for something new. Lateral work!" We tried to start out with leg yields at trot. Heading from quarter line right to the rail, he nearly immediately picked up the yields, with a few brief moments of straightening to get his head aiming forward. Then we tried the opposite direction - yuck. Ransom's old bones and legs said, "No go Momma". He was choppy, ugly, and while I won't say ignoring the aids, he didn't seem able to complete the work.
After about an hour total lesson ride, we unsaddled, and hosed him down. Ransom is going to continue his work in Training Level, but will progress no higher. Barb suggested I consider starting to look for a more advanced horse. A bigger, badder, better dressage trained horse. I love my Ransom, though. Nevertheless, we're a team at least until the end of the year. He and I will continue our Training Level goals for the season.