I set up two markers about 12 feet apart in the middle of the riding area. I asked the student to canter a circle and incorporate the markers into the pattern. She gathered her horse into a soft feel, he responded by lifting his shoulders, she moved his hindquarters slightly to the right and from a halt she picked up a beautiful right lead canter. Her depart was smooth, soft, round and through. I was impressed.
She cantered several circles, always going in between the two markers. She's been riding with me long enough to know that I want her to concentrate on round circles, creating the correct bend, and finding the center of the markers. She didn't disappoint me.
Next, I asked her to use the space between the markers as a stopping place. Again, she knows not to pull on the reins to accomplish a stop. Instead, she changes the energy in her body to reflect the downward transition from canter to halt. She gathered him up, repeated her gorgeous halt to canter depart and circled around to the left. About 20 feet prior to the markers, I saw her lower her energy and her gelding dropped from canter to trot. At 10 feet from the markers, she dropped her energy again and he responded down to a walk and at the markers he stopped in the center when she quit riding at that spot. Lovely!
We had him rest there on loose reins. I wanted to make that exact spot very comfortable for him. Not only was it the stopping spot, it was also the resting spot; very good incentive to practice downward transitions.
Gathering him again, she picked up canter to the right. Around she came, repeating the pattern. Only, he didn't want to make any downward transitions. He cantered through her requests and the markers so she quietly continued her circle. They cantered around again and he wasn't interested in any type of downward transition. No big deal. She sensed that he needed to blow off some steam. She didn't get excited or worried or nervous about the fact that he wasn't listening. Instead, she enjoyed the thrill of a beautiful, soft canter on her wonderful horse.
Each circle, she asked. Each circle he refused. Each circle she remained light and supportive and happy to be cantering. Each circle he presented a lovely and balanced canter. They were having a very good time.
Then, he changed. When he felt her change her energy, he complied with a lovely canter to trot to walk to halt transition - right between the markers. She dropped her reins and he lowered his head and stretched and yawned.
Both of them had a wonderful time. He listened to her, she listened to him and he repaid that by giving her all that she asked. Together, they helped each other with the finer aspects of horsemanship.