I don't think it was one of those outlier rides either. If I could plot his progress from the past few months on a graph, you would definitely see an upward trend. He is finally, finally growing up. And in case the Universe is listening, I am not saying that we won't still have bumpy days; they'e still in there, I know.
The second thing, which is very new, is over-flexing him when he's naughty. Now that he doesn't get to snap his head up (did I already say NEVER?), he also has to maintain a bend. That means when he wants to brace against my hand or charge through the bridle, I simply over-flex him. And I hold the flexion until he softens to it and relaxes through his poll and neck.
Over-flexing has several benefits. When Izzy wants to get heavy and brace against my hand, all I could do before was pull back to slow him down. By over-flexing, I am now able to get him on the outside rein. From there, I can actually do a half halt.
When I rode on Saturday, he was able to maintain a steady tempo and change the bend fluidly. We schooled movements from Training Level all the way to Second. HIs counter canter is really nice, and simple changes should be a breeze on him; he already offers the canter to walk without even trying!
It might be taking us longer than I had hoped for, but this boy is getting better and better!