The next challenge was to get him to canter right when I asked. My instructor set up two cavalletti on the circle so that I could trot up to the "jump," then sit, cue, and land a canter out of the second "jump". I did fine on the first couple tries, and then she upped the challenge, asking me to land the canter after the first cavalletti and then keep cantering around the circle.
"Fol-low, relax your back, feel the rhythm," my instructor called out.
I realized that this is the same advice my mom, who grew up on a dairy farm but is not a horse person, has been telling me after my lessons for years.
I'm the first to admit that I am not good at accepting advice. When my mom told me, "Carli, you have to feel the rhythm of the horse," time and time again after my lessons, I dismissed her. "Rhythm" was a frou-frou word that had no place in the exacting world of clean approaches, increasing impulsion (a concept I didn't really understand), and counting strides. I was the one who decided the rhythm and the pace, not the horse. I ignored her advice, certain that my hunter/jumper instructor knew better than she did.
I didn't hear about the training pyramid until I took a trial dressage lesson at age 19, after having taken hunter/jumper lessons for seven years (age 11 to age 18).
Thank you Mom, for seeing something that I was too stubborn to. Maybe I should listen to you more...