|It only gets better from here|
Cuna was very grumpy when we met S in the middle of the ring. Why? She brought tools for us to use. He does hate tools. First we popped on a set of draw reins. Given Cuna's long, stiff self, he's worn them pretty regularly before I got him. I'd been told they were the key to unlocking his dressage, but I am sub par at handling 4 reins, so I'd never gone there.
That is all I have to say. I kept the draws loose and held contact on the snaffle rein so that the tools only came into play when he attempted to evade.
Because he's worn them before, Cuna pitched a MASSIVE fit for about 10 minutes, then trotted around like a good boy. We picked up the canter. S had me drop my stirrups and turn down the longside (eek! not usually a good idea).
I was completely awed by Cuna's balance and softness as we went around the whole arena. Usually, he flattens, tips forward, and hauls me out of the tack on a canter straightaway. Not so! He was uphill, connected, and comfortable. We kept our work in the draws to a minimum because it's asking him to work very, very hard and he needs time to build up muscle tone, but it was a total lightbulb for me. I didn't know he could feel like that.
Cuna and I finished off the lesson with some ~lovely~ transition from all three gaits.
He was a little peeved about the lesson, more peeved that I turned him out after (HATE ALL TURNOUT), and most peeved about the unfortunate incident with the measuring stick that night. I have to admit, I was not optimistic about our chances at the show.
To be continued...
*The rules for a do-it-youself baucher: take a 3 ring bit with your favorite mouthpiece. Put the cheeks on normally, but attach the reins to the large ring. Not show legal in dressage, but it simulates a baucher's action if you want to try on out.