No complaints about the weather on Friday - a few fluffy clouds, temp in the upper 70's, a light breeze to keep the bugs away... if only all my riding days were so lovely!
A slight change of plans resulted in Sunny and I having the arena to ourselves for an hour before my lesson. No complaints about that either - although Sunny may have expressed some if I'd asked him, LOL!
I saddled him western, and after a couple trips back to the trailer to retrieve my spurs and apply more fly spray, started warming him up. A series of medium circles in both directions, first asking him to shoulder-in and then for haunches-in, and then some half-passing. When he was striding well under in back and I'd gotten good bend in both directions, we moved on to collected walk on a larger circle.
I focused on looking out and ahead, staying rocked back on my seatbones, trying to really feel each hoof land and his barrel up and round under me without looking down at his head. Not sure how successful I was, but at least I was thinking about it.
I went right first - his good direction. When I cued trot, his head popped up. Not surprising given the dearth of riding time he's had lately, so I spent the next umpteen laps working on getting him to roll over and round up and commit to carrying himself. Eventually we managed a full round in fairly nice form, so I gave him a breather to air up and stretch. Then it was on to canter.
He took the correct lead when I asked him - not a surprise to the right, though. Was it pretty? Eh... Canter is improving incrementally. He's still dropping his inside shoulder, and he's definitely not collected by any stretch of the imagination. But... rate is getting better, and he's staying in gait better, too. There were a few moments of definite roundness, and at no point did he stick his nose way out and fling his head, so... progress. Downward transitions are still heavy in front, but that's as much me as it is him. Overall, I'd say it was satisfactory.
After another walk-break I reversed and we went to work on left. Walk was good. Softness and collection at the trot was steps above where he was going right. Canter? Pffft. No dice. He was back to flinging his nose up and throwing that outside shoulder forward into the wrong lead. It didn't seem to matter how far over I'd put his hip, he was bound and determined to take the right lead, not the left.
He may very well need to be adjusted again. Maybe it's a saddle issue. As round as he is, I don't have a single saddle that fits him well at present.... Or possibly he's just anticipating something is going to hurt, even if it doesn't. He certainly doesn't seem sore anywhere, and running my thumbs down his back and pressing post-ride didn't prompt any reaction. At any rate, it's a problem to be solved before we can move forward.
Rather than push the issue - but not wanting to reward him for refusing to take that lead by stopping - I finished with some serpentines at a working trot using the whole arena, and then cooled out with spiral circles at the walk and some backing using the pole-defined L someone had left set up. Altogether about 45 minutes of solid work.