In no time at all, I can have him trotting around with a much more consistent rhythm and he is a lot steadier in my hand. When he tries to duck behind the bit, I add leg and lift the left rein to remind him of where he needs to be. (To the right it's the outside rein, but to the left it's the inside rein.)
Several good things are starting to happen:
- whatever I am doing, it is eliminating his tendency to run through the outside shoulder.
- he is now halting promptly and pretty squarely, and he isn't drifting out in the hind end.
- he's listening to my half halts.
- he will now go forward and come back - a precursor to lengthening I am sure.
I will continue with this exercise for the next two weeks. That's when he goes back to see JL. Sydney gets to go for two weeks now. The question I have now is at what point do I start to lower my hands? He has offered to come down, but I know it was in an effort to hide behind the bit. I don't want to play that game. When I asked JL about this after my lesson on Sydney, she suggested I ask for some vertical flexion. If he can continue to use his hind end, he's ready. If he loses steam behind, he's not ready. Hmm ... something to work on.
Even with my hands so high, I am soft with them. When he really engages his hind end and lifts even the slightest bit in his withers, he gets some "relief" from the bit. I know that isn't the right way to describe the feeling, but it's the best I can do. When he works with me, I can shift my hands forward and he really launches us around the arena. It's a fun feeling! There's no way to do that when his nose is touching his belly button.