Dressage-ish update: I have canter departures with lead-on-demand from the walk. They’re not pretty and, in the case of the right lead, they aren’t straight. But, I have them. I didn’t have them in May of this year, so this is progress. Leads. On demand. From the walk. In a trial (six efforts, start out on one lead, break to trot, change to other lead — I did three starting with left lead and three starting with right lead) she missed 1 lead total and fixed that when I stopped her and tried again. So, 11 for 12 on leads. She knows her leads.
Next up? I’d like flying changes on demand. Okay, honestly, really what I want is to get my horse to skip (technically what I want are one-tempi flying changes, looks like this except that’s a high-end warmblood with a real trainer and I’m an idiot with a backyard arab who will, no doubt, be doing this rather more crookedly and in a hayfield). Why? Why not? I think it’d be cool. I would like to see if we can.
Do I have any idea how to teach this? No. I’ve given it some thought, though, and I expect one doesn’t start with one-tempi changes. I expect probably it’d be a good idea to start with a single flying lead change on command, hopefully on a straight line. And then when that works, try doing one every ten strides or so. If that’s good, maybe try every eight strides… to five… to three… to two… to one. I expect it’s a process. Right now, I’m at “I can do a simple lead change on a straight line with a couple of steps of trotting in there.” This is pretty beginner-level.
We have a long ways to go before there is skipping, but at least we’re beyond all the people who can’t ask for a lead and get it, all the people who don’t know how to teach a horse to get a lead, all the people who aren’t real sure what a lead is… I am at least in the correct book for one-tempi changes. I’m at the preface, but it’s the correct book.