What we're missing is the ability to adjust the canter. One stride currently fits all and things gradually deteriorate to uncoordinated rushing over the course of a few 20 m circles. A common approach to working on that is to ask for a trot transition just before things unravel. As I'm sure I've mentioned, Midge is a very smart and lazy pony, so she figured out super quickly that general flailing around and giving up leads to trotting. Trotting is her happy place, so she will happily bounce off walls and stumble around, then be like "OK, trot?Trot now? How about NOW?*collision course with jump standard* Surely now we trot?" In other words, another approach was needed. Tonight , a slight variation: canter a few strides, then transition to trot but get as few trot strides as possible before cantering again. All on about a 15m circle, insisting on proper bend and quality transitions up and down. The idea of all this being we decrease to 1 stride of trot, then finally think "trot" but keep cantering, and viola, a half halt in the canter is installed. (We could do this on the straight, but again Midge would brace and use it against me/go into runaway pony train mode so the circle, while more difficult to coordinate, is my friend.)
As a rider, this was a simple concept but in practice was the most ridiculously difficult thing. Keeping wayward pony on a circle, on the aids AND doing accurate transitions? I've never felt so uncoordinated in my life. By some magic, to the right we accomplished a consistent 4-6 strides of canter alternating with 1 of trot, and then the theory proved correct, because by half halting and thinking trot for a second we had a legit half halt installed and rebalanced canter activated. Love it!
The left just about fried my brain (what? now I have to weight the other seat bone and use the other outside rein?!!?) and I never did feel as coordinated there, but it is Bridget's easier side and we got it done.
I'm excited about this exercise - it's difficult for me, but it really works and it's pretty simple. Our transitions were becoming better, and Bridget was really on the aids and focused. It also exposed some (more, lol) position issues on my part...funny how your quirks become very obvious/exaggerated when you feel rushed, as I did when trying to coordinate my body to ask for a correct canter depart with so little prep time. My little cheats became very apparent :)
Next "event": Visit and mini clinic with Ginger and Trainer M, November 16.