Thursday I had a lesson with Carol. I wanted to work on a few things I knew would be sticky points in our Training tests at the end of the month, the trot/halt/trot at the beginning which lacks a bit of the crispness I’d like, and the stretchy trot circle, which has always tended to get more rushy than stretchy.
We warmed up lightly, then started with the trot/halt/trot. Carol pointed out that at Training, I’m allowed a few steps of walk, so don’t force it and make it too abrupt. We tried out a dressage whip for the first time, just carrying not using, and that seemed to help sharpen her up, the way holding it and occasionally touching her shoulder with a bat while jumping helps bring her focus back. We actually had quite a few nice transitions, as I worked on keeping my hands and arms still, and asking her to transition with my seat and core. By the end we were getting that surprisingly well!
Then we moved on to more serious trot work. We spent a while working on spiraling in and out to get her supple and loose and moving well, then Carol made an artificial corner with a pole, since the outdoor is elliptical and not rectangular. I was to use that corner to really get her into shoulder-fore and balanced, so I could release the reins and let her stretch when we hit A. If I really use the long side and corner to set her up well, we ended up with an absolutely lovely stretchy trot, very swingy and not at all rushy. Now I just need to remember that for the show, and make sure we practice it a bit at home, maybe at the end of each ride for a circle or two each way.