Saturday, I Chester in his snaffle bit since Meghan thinks I'm ready to try him in that, which will make getting him on the bit easier since the bit is less severe than what I normally ride him in. To begin with, I worked on testing my brakes. I rode on a circle and did some walk-halt transitions. Those went well enough, so I began the trot. I worked on connecting Chester to the bit. He is a lot more willing to use his back and connect when I use this bit, which is because it doesn't hurt his mouth if I use too much pressure. It still wasn't easy, but I was able to get him to connect much faster than last time.
Once I had tried this I both directions, on a circle, I asked for the canter. Chester did seem ready to canter yet a took off, giving a small buck(just a small one---not even close to a rodeo buck). I managed to stay and wasn't very tense afterward. A month ago I would've come off, but I have developed a better seat since then.
After the unsuccessful canter, I began working on controlling Chester's tempo in the trot. He tends to run off if his tempo is checked, so I gave him a lot of strong half-halts, nearly bringing him to a halt before pushing him forward. I then did this same thing on a serpentine, giving the strong half-halts on the parts in between each part of the serpentine. Once I had a controlled trot, I cantered on a circle left at A. Chester's canter was controlled and balanced. I even managed to get a fairly balanced canter the other way.
Next, I went through Training Test 1. The test still needs some polishing, but it is a work in progress. When I had finished the test, I began learning a new skill: loops. A loop goes something like: Start at H(or F, M, or K) reach X, then turn towards K. If you start at F, you hit X and head to M, and so on. The pattern itself is pretty straightforward, but the tricky part is having the correct flexion. The horse has to look the way he is going without going off course, so you need to add leg to keep on track. I rode several loops, from H to X to K, then the FXM loop. The flexion part is what I need to practice.
Once I had ridden several loops, I learned a new test: Training Test 3. It goes like this: Enter A working tort, X halt salute. At C, track left, ride a HXK loop, then canter at the corner before F. Head down the long side, circle at B, round the corner after M, making a diagonal from H to F. At X is the trot transition. Medium walk at A, then free walk the KXH loop. Trot at C, ride a MXF loop, canter in the corner before K. Head down the long side, circle at E, trot at C. Stretchy circle at B, then up centerline.
This test is much longer and more complicated than Test 1. It asks more from the horse and rider because the horse must have the correct flexion and not just go through the movements. The flexion is still a thing to work on, and I went off course a couple times but I am beginning to remember it. I tried it twice that day. As I familiarize myself with the pattern, the test will become more smooth. By looking through the test, I realize that the judges ask a lot for good geometry and balanced gaits, transitions,and turns. These are what I should focus on once I have the test memorized. I'm looking forward to practicing it.