Palm. To. Face. Might as well toss that agenda right in the trash.
Because Izzy's number one way to resist is to brace his neck and suck back (see photo above), Chemaine had me work on convincing him to let go through his poll and neck and reach forward to the bit. Sounds like every other lesson, right? I know, but she added a new aid. Basically it went like this:
- Flex him to the inside so that his shoulder falls out.
- Use the outside rein to straighten him so that his shoulders are in line with his hind end.
- Rather than just use the rein, Chemaine had me also sit evenly on both seat bones so that my outside seat bone told his outside hind leg to step up and forward.
- Flex to the inside, pulse, pulse, pulse with the outside rein to straighten.
It took me some time to figure out how much to pulse because at first I got no response. After some trial and error, I started to feel him what I needed to do in order to get him to actually sit and collect. Once he was really collected, he started asking to stretch forward and down to the bit. When he did, I was able to use my seat to ask for a bigger stride.
In the past, my half halts at the canter had to be really firm and long (several strides). He so easily tipped over onto his forehand that it took huge half halts to say slow it down buddy and hold your own self up. Now that he can carry himself, I need my half halts to be much more subtle and to convey more information.
My inside seat bone already drives the inside hind leg. I use that to ride leg yields and shoulder in. On Speedy, I have been using the outside seat bone and outside rein for straightening to prepare for the medium and extended trot. I just hadn't been using it on Izzy.
To address this problem, Chemaine had me use the outside rein until he was actually soft, not just "off" the bit. Sometimes that meant counter flexing him until he reached forward and down. The whole purpose was to be able to swing his neck from left to right all the while feeling a "soft and elastic connection."
Izzy's still not "easy" to ride, but the more buttons I get installed, the easier things get. His cruise control doesn't work yet, but we're getting closer!