After our lesson last week, I cleaned my dressage saddle. It was a long time coming. I thought briefly about posting a picture of how filthy the water was after I'd rinsed the sponge a few times, but then I tipped over into "too embarrassing." So you'll have to take my word for it: blech.
I decided to leave my stirrups off the saddle for my next ride. We started off with some nice marching walk work, forward into the bridle, with bending on the turns to the cavaletti incorporated into each turn around the arena.
Then we moved on to trot, and this is where my plan for the ride started to unravel. My sitting trot is decent - not great - and it wasn't quite clicking. It wasn't awful jackhammering, but it was just bouncy enough to make me think that if I was really trying to get him to relax and work through his back, this wasn't helping. Our two passes over the caveletti definitely confirmed that: on the plus side, I don't think I'll need chiro for my back! I probably could have worked through it but by I would've done more harm than good.
So I held onto it for long enough to warm up, about 10 minutes in big passes around the ring, and focused instead on transitions. We started with walk-trot and back on a circle, shortening time in each gait and sharpening the transition, and then moved to trot-canter, back and forth. Eventually transitions got sharp enough that I was able to do halt-trot transitions, then walk-canter and back, then a couple of actual honest halt-canter transitions. They weren't very pretty, but they were prompt and they existed, so victory!