After a few ones with a controlled canter and good geometry, I went across the diagonal to change directions, riding the same exercise in the other direction. Like last time, it was difficult. Focusing on riding transitions and directions takes practice, but I got a few good ones.
Next, I rode through the dressage test I recently started working on, Training Level Test 3. It not go well at. In short, it was tense, wild, fast, and not very controlled. Chester was in one of his energetic moods and was completely running off, causing me to keep a tighter hold on the reins, which irritated him more. I kept him on the pattern, but it was anything but the balanced and calm test the judges are looking for.
The next time through, my focus was mostly on calming Chester and getting him back to his "happy place." Rather than nagging at him by constantly half-halting, I decided to relax, take a breath, and talk softly to him. The result was successful. I was able to get Chester relaxed and happy, and it wasn't just by holding him back, the latter of which may slow him down, but not truly get him back to his "happy place."
This test turned out much more smoothly and controlled. Chester was reassured when I talked to him and gained confidence. Meghan says that being able to relax a horse that quickly takes a good rider, so I must have really improved over the summer. If something like that happened three months ago, I probably wouldn't have stayed on and would likely have dismounted and tried again another day.