I rode Ruby a two times last week, and have been steadily improving. All the work at turning Ruby without out my hands are finally paying off; I did some nice maneuvers the last couple rides, and even improved at the cone serpentine. While doing the cone serpentine, the goal is to keep the horse almost straight, sidestepping slightly rather than making a part circle, which I have done successfully. However, turning around the last cone proved to be the most difficult part until Laura explained how to do it properly. Instead of trying to pivot around the final cone, she told me to start turning just after the second to last cone, making a circle around the last cone. It worked out much better than attempting to turn tightly around the last cone. I even attempted to jog the serpentine, though the cones were made a bit wider than it was before I attempted it at a jog.
Laura also made me do a short course. I started by entering the box at the walk and halting, then prepared to do a turn on the haunches to the right. When I asked her to turn her shoulders, she went a bit fast, but didm;t bump any poles. I straightened her, took a breath, and gently asked her to walk off. As she stepped out of the box, I asked for the jog, heading straight towards the rail. I focused intently on keeping straight lines of travel rather than allowing Ruby to cut in on the turns as I have before. Cutting in does not look pretty, and I would likely lose points for that. Once I reached the rail I turned right, continuing along until I was across from a cone marker. Here I turned right again, traveling several strides before turning directly to the box. I entered it, halting. After a few moments, I took off again, heading directly to the white wooden side pass pole. Taking a deep intake of breath, I began to side pass to the right. I slowly, carefully, pushed her over step by step. I reached the end of the pole, jogging off almost immediately. After just a few strides, I reached the rail, traveling left along the rail, down the short side and around the corner. I swerved left and right through the serpentine. I had barely exited the serpentine when I turned Ruby left into the box. Laura thought I had done really well!
I also practiced a side pass around the corner of the box. At first, my aids were discordant; Ruby was unclear at what I was asking her to do, and I didn't prevent her from becoming crooked. She began to get flustered, balking and becoming discombobulated. I inhaled deeply. Laura mounted her for a few moments to school her for a couple minutes, then allowed me to remount. This time I relaxed, taking my time as I pushed her to the corner. Then, I put my outside leg forward to push her shoulders over, asking her to do a quarter turn on the haunches around the corner of the box. I poised my inside leg at her side block her should her shoulders move too far. This time she moved around the corner smoothly and fluidly.
I also worked on some western pleasure and cantering this week. The walk and jog is going well, though I'm having struggles with the canter. During the canter, my aids become discordant and unclear, my body tenses, my hips move against the rhythm and/or comes out of the saddle, and everything falls apart, becoming inconsonant, wild, and inharmonious. In short, it was a disaster. It doesn't always happen to that extent, but I've had some of these struggles for a while. Funnily enough, when I accidentally cantered last week, I did not have these problems, which proves that when asking for canter, something in my mind makes me shut down slightly. It's not that I'm scared or nervous; I'm not sure why it happens. Does anyone have any ideas on how I can relax in the canter, and move my hips in rhythm with it, and not against the rhythm? I'm looking at articles online, but I'd like to know what anyone else thinks as well! I'm just doing walk/jog classes, so I'm not too worried, and besides that, everything went really well!