I had a really good lesson with Amy - just flat work but I felt like I walked away with some solid homework for fixing the walk. The walk has been getting better but it's been a very sloooowwww journey. For whatever reason, Charlie is incredibly fussy in the walk. If you pressure him, he gets very, very lateral and refuses to go forward. I barely touch his mouth and pony club kick him but it doesn't do much good and I end up moving onto to something else in a different gait. Every once in a while a can get a few steps of true walk with some connection but it's very sporadic.
Because everyone has told me the walk is the easiest gait to ruin, I've been a bit tentative to really get after Charlie in the walk. As we worked on the walk, Amy talked about her thoughts on why the walk is so tough (because I think it should be the easiest) - basically, since there is never a moment when all four feet are off the ground in the walk, she thinks it makes it easier for the horse to evade and more difficult for the rider to collect. After watching us for a bit and knowing how Charlie likes to use lateral evasion (she pointed out that I tend to use to much inside aid - especially leg because I'm trying so hard to get him to bend), she had us do walking turns on the haunches. So instead of going on a circle, we made a square by doing quarter turns on the haunches. Very effective for two reasons - 1) it gave me something else to think about besides the fussiness and lack of impulsion and 2) it made me lay off the inside aids because I was using my outside aids almost exclusively to create the turn. As we kept working on it, Charlie became less fussy, more forward, and his walk became much truer and straighter. And this folks is why she makes the big bucks! ;) It was interesting because in the beginning, Amy said not to pressure him too much in the walk but at the end, she said to go ahead and put some pressure on him because he seems to have to have the mild temper tantrums to breakthrough to the good stuff.
We also worked on some shoulder-in on the circle at the trot, increasing the angle of the movement each time we asked. Charlie got better and better at this - he really started reaching for the outside rein with his inside hind. I just have to be careful going to the left as he tends to swing his hips out instead on keeping them on the track. We then finished up with some working canter to medium canter to working canter transitions. I must say I was very proud of the WonderPony - he tried really hard and only put up a few token protests.
After the lesson, he got his feet done. It was very interesting to talk with Mick - he thinks the reason Charlie has such a hard time keeping shoes on is because he has some fungus-amungus growing in his hoof wall. While it's pretty much invisible from the outside, it wreaks havoc within the hoof wall and makes it almost impossible to nail into (like trying to nail into swiss cheese). There is some sort of fumigation product (pretty sure it's called White Lightening) that you put in a bag and then seal the bag around the foot and it kills the fungal infection. Pretty neat and if it keeps Charlie out of glue-ons, I'm sold. Mick did nail his shoes on this time around and said to be prepared to have to get him done as soon as he needs it so we can get rid of all the yucky stuff and hopefully have new, lovely hoof to start working with - fingers are crossed. It will be much easier to get to Tryon then Aiken and since the adventure is easily combined with a lesson, I feel like I'm getting more bang for my gas buck.
An afternoon stroll in the sun.