Tonight Koda and I did a slow but intense school at the walk and trot. We focused on flexibility, listening to the inside leg and respecting the outside aids. Doing spiralling in and out on the circle at the walk, being very conscious of keeping a consistent bend, softness in contact, and overall general consistency. Spiralling, leg-yielding, serpentines, reverses, etc.were all done at the walk with me riding without stirrups for about 20 minutes. When we moved on to trot work, I took my stirrups back (at 2-point position with the stirrups at the correct length). As we did our trot work, we did some spiralling in, larger circles, continually thinking about balance, softness, and consistency.
Our first couple canter transitions were a bit rough, but they improved and we weren't throwing ourselves into them. We did a simple exercise of pole, 9ft to cross rail, 9 ft to pole. Rode it well, I need to find the right amount of softness for Koda. He's not a point and shoot kind of guy, although he's becoming more confident over fences. When I'm too tense, he'll pull a rail transferring my tenseness to either a trailing hind end or inverted jump. If I'm too soft, he will root on landing a bit and take the reins. Another thing to add to the list of things to work on :)
After riding through the exercise at a trot and canter (better in canter) we went back to our circle exercises at a walk, dropped the irons, and re-affirmed our soft contact, bend, and being on the aids.
We're going to be doing more rides like this, along with going out by ourselves more often while we still have the slightly warmer weather! The blanket season will be starting soon, Koda is already starting to get fuzzy and some of his war marks have grown in with his almost black winter coat.