Cisco was ridden on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this weekend. I think these were rides 6,7 & 8 for this year on him. And only somewhere in the mid-30 rides overall.
The problem that has cropped up this week is straightness. Rather, our lack of it.
We are having two different problems. One - through a transition (up or down). The other - being able to stay on the track down the long side without dropping the shoulder to the inside. Now, it's only been the last few rides that when we have halted he hasn't needed to take a step back to balance himself. So I'm pretty sure the transitions will be related to balance and will improve significantly with some more miles.
The going straight up the long side issue - this week he has kind of figured out how to drop a shoulder to the inside, and has been starting his turns earlier than ideal using this method. So then we end up going around the short side of the arena with his head turned to the outside in my feeble attempt to steer, and this sets us up for a crappy, wiggly long side.
Can't stay straight!
He still doesn't understand moving laterally off of leg, so leg yielding, which would be the obvious fix, ain't happening.
Dropping that shoulder before the turn.
I decided to do the exercise where you trot straight into a corner, halt, then turn out and do the same in the next corner. Every once in a while I would have him turn into the wall and change direction just to keep him on his toes.
It totally worked. I mean, it took a few repetitions. And some of the halts (through walk) were ugly. But late in the ride we were able to ride deep corners without dropping the inside shoulder, and because our corners were better, we were able to stay straight down the long side.
I do have to get onto teaching him to move away from my leg though. His steering is generally quite good, and I can keep my hands very quiet when I want to turn or circle. And I think he has some understanding of leg with the steering. Until something distracts him, then he forgets everything.
One whole step of turn on the forehand.
I'm going to try to ramp up the turn on the forehand and leg yields over the next few rides. By which I mean - ask for like 3 steps of leg yield, and maybe a whole 4 of leg yield. Since we can barely get one step of either at this point, I think that's a good goal to start with.