Of course I ended my last entry with Pogo not being "ready" to canter, and well, today we cantered. However, the goal was not to canter, make it pretty, etc. it was to get forward motion without a fight, fuss, or making the horse crazy. Pogo generally has a great attitude, but if he doesn't feel like doing something, you can tell. I don't want him to hate life so, I am trying to work with him to move forward (literally).
Our trot work has been coming along, however his trot to the right was awesome, and to the left was lacking, he just would lay on my inside leg to the left and suck back. Along with sucking back, he would shorten basically every muscle in his body, and the more you asked for forward the more tense he got about it, to the point where he would almost just hop up and down (nearly cantering in a teacup stride). A great instructor I know told me once, "never ride a green horse, baby horse, clients horse, or your own without a stick. It's better to have it and not use it than to wish you had one and really need it." So true to this instructor I have been carrying a crop at all times, never having to use it. So today I tried the "flick" that jockeys do, just laying it on his side, even a tap to no avail (only slight irritation with the tap, irritation is NOT my goal)...So, we attempted a canter...
Pluses and minuses to this situation: Plus -> leads are a non-issue (both directions, I did push my luck just to see). Luckily my confidence building exercises on the lunge line with picking it up stuck. We struck off balanced, and forward and eventually leveled out to a pretty nice, relaxed and controlled canter on a loose rein, both directions.
Minuses -> mentally, a neutral move: he wanted to do more, but I don't think he expected that and if horses can think in retrospect, probably not one of his most brilliant "I want to do more" ideas. Physically, he is not fit enough to really hold a good canter. I guess this goes in with "physically" the boy is still growing, is quite down hill and isn't the most nimble. I think he is still trying to figure out where his feet are and how to keep them organized with a rider on his back.
Biggest Plus (and desired result achieved!) Both trot directions had a much better quality to them after the canter, including being softer into the bridle (w0w, there is a hind end pushing back there!) stretching down and accepting my leg to move forward and away from the pressure. We got a few steps of leg yield to the rail and trot and at the walk was able to carry a shoulder in for most of the long side and leg yield to and away from the wall, both directions.
From here, Pogo has earned two days off to let his lesson sink in (I am not sure how I calculate this, its just the feeling I get or a subconscious mathematical equation that takes everything into account, multiplied together and divided by .483, haha). He will resume on Friday with potentially another lunge line lesson and resume to riding over the weekend...but as we all know, plans may change!