Ever since the CDS Adult Amateur Clinic that I did with Speedy G, I have been focusing on my own seat. I am working on improving my sitting trot, and I am playing around with my aids to see which ones are more effective with Izzy.
Sometimes, his back just stays tight no matter what I try which means his trot and canter are both about 5 inches long and 10 feet high. No one can sit that or do much with it. On those days, I just ask over and over for him to lower his head and (for the love of God) try to stretch down.
When he would try to hollow his back by snapping his head up, I kept my hands low and insisted he stretch by squeezing him forward. Little by little, his stride opened up, and he started asking to stretch down on his own.
At that point, I scooped my seat ever so subtly and thought left lead canter. The transitions weren't perfect, but he did pick up the canter without rushing or launching forward at mach 10. We made big circles, used the whole arena, and spiraled back down. I took advantage of his willingness to work and let him canter as long as he wanted to. This horse needs to feel how comfortable a relaxed canter and trot can be.
When he finally asked to trot, I remembered to take advantage of the impulsion that cantering had given us and asked him for a big stretchy trot. It's hard not to smile when I get that big lofty trot that he's capable of. I don't get to see it very often, but knowing it's there makes it worth the daily struggle.
When we changed direction, I was equally pleased with his canter to the right. I still need to work on getting him even in both reins - he wants to lean on the inside right rein, but he finally loosened up through his back. It's been weeks since he would canter nicely to the right.
My goal for the summer is to continue working on my own seat. The more balanced I am, the better I will be able to communicate with both of my horses, especially Izzy.