So with my new thought of "just do something" I went out to the barn on Wednesday.
First thing was to pull out all my gear to eliminate any excuses later in the session.
I brought Cricket out at liberty. She ignored the hay bales, the feed cans and stopped when I did on the verge of the grass. Beautiful obedience!
I groomed her at liberty, allowing her to roam around the paddock. At first I was content to just watch her graze. Finally I grabbed my CS and we played a little at liberty. After she left twice, I put the 22' on and continued our warm-up on-line. She comes back easily but this is not a pattern I want to re-establish.
After her stretches, I took her into the arena and saddled her up. Started with some walking and trotting the rail. Incorporated some friendly game with opening the gate. I've taught Cricket to become emotional and now I need to help her understand what I want. I used a savvy string to control the gate and, when Cricket could stand still while it opened, I gave her a cookie, re-latched the gate and moved on. When she gravitated towards the gate, some slow but intense HQ yields convinced her that it was only good when it was my idea.
We used the Question Box pattern to work on transitions - gait and direction. She was very responsive using trot - drop to walk - trot in changing from the left to right bend.
Our first attempt at canter was choppy and unharmonious. Our second attempt was soft, rhythmic and relaxed. I cantered her 8-10 circuits on the right bend of the question box. I don't know that I've ever cantered a stretch that long. She broke gait a few times but eased back up at my request. She even blew out during the canter. Called it a win and quit for the night.
In reflecting, I know I need to find a way to work on the left lead. Some of it's in my head but my Pilates instructor has verified that some of my issues are definitely in my butt - my left hip, to be specific. I'm going to start expanding the circle to go all the way to the rail. Cricket will be on less of a bend and that should help me get in harmony with her. It will also help me start getting comfortable with cantering on the rail, a skill I would like to have solid before heading to camp.
I feel much better about just moving ahead with Cricket. It doesn't matter if we hit more rocky spots. I've come this far and truly feel the sky is the limit.