I follow that stretch with a jaw/poll wiggle with his head hanging straight down. I nearly always get a variety of pops and cracks from his poll when we do that. He seems to enjoy it. I also cross a hind leg in front of the other to get a hamstring stretch. He'll hold the stretch by himself, but not for long. That stretch is boring without any opportunity for playing with me.
And that's where the half halt to the hind leg comes in. Since Izzy wants to keep his neck so short, my half halts weren't doing anything. With a short neck, his stride just gets shorter and quicker. To remedy that, Chemaine Hurtado, owner and trainer at Symphony Dressage Stables, had me think about half halting all the way through to his hind leg.
She's been saying that for however long, but I finally got it. Simply tugging with the outside rein isn't enough. When he actually transfers more weight to the hind, he can slow his front end which allows him to stretch down without falling on his face. If I don't feel a difference in how he's going, we didn't achieve a half halt. Another palm to face moment.
Over the weekend I got a really good feel for it at the canter. I half halted until I felt his hind leg through the rein. It was as though that outside rein was actually connected to his leg. I don't think I've ever had that sensation before.
The work we're doing now is fun; it's not about just trying to stay on. We're actually working together as a team to build something exciting. We may actually make it to Training Level someday!