So I'll be honest: I was more than a little nervous about Tuesday night's lesson. Though all signs pointed to Tristan recovering completely from whacking his hoof on Saturday, and I felt that I'd acted appropriately in treating it, even his brief bout of unsoundness from the abscess has me paranoid.
He came out his usual self, sticky and fussy in the warmup but giving me good moments, and once he settled in we were right back where we had been. I focused on leg yields in the warmup, asking him to step over without rushing, without blowing through the outside rein, and with bend. It took some time, but after a few good leg yields our overall suppleness increased.
Our focus for the lesson was on two-way communication and consistency, maintaining a length of rein that allowed me to feel his mouth constantly and not giving quite so much in reward. T. talked about how the getting there aids are different from the maintenance aids. I need to be focusing more on the latter now. Instead of constantly picking up and dropping the connection, I need to find the bridge to keep the connection all the time.
There were some really, really nice stretches in there, when I felt that we were completely and totally engaged with each other, my aids were spot-on and instantaneous, my core was fully engaged, and he was working with me instead of evading or fighting. There were also some uglier moments. The canter might - maybe - be finally coming along, creeping slowly toward balance and self-carriage.
We also ran our test for Sunday, Beginner Novice B, aka "when in doubt, cross the diagonal." Ugh. I didn't like it any better riding it than I had reading it, but there are some nice moments in there for us. The canter transitions at X, however, do not help at ALL. T. liked it overall and praised my accuracy, but my rhythm was off. Our half-turn to the final halt was great, but I blew it by rushing the halt, which meant we overshot G and he landed crooked.
Tonight, we'll work a bit in the back fields with his new bell boots, I'll get started on packing/prepping the trailer, and we should be good to go for Sunday. We go dressage at 8:06 (second ride of the whole day), stadium at 10:54, and cross-country at 11:04.