|You can see how loose I have the draw reins.|
I know. My attention span isn't that great either, but I don't like to be un-detailed because you just never know when you may need to read back through something to get ideas! So. I'll start with the mare ...
Rode her Saturday in the ghetto draw reins. I wanted to give her 2-3 rides with the "gadget" just to help her get her muscles working correctly, then go back naked. She started out very fresh, very tense, and jiggy. Every time I asked her to trot, she tried to pop her shoulder and canter off, so I spent some quality time doing w/t transitions until she settled in a little more. I did lots of circles and changes of direction, and finally she began to settle down into the contact and get a little more steady.
I trotted her over a small crossrail set dead center in the ring, and she was pretty good! She did try to get a little quick at first, so I worked to stay soft and not pull on her, which would then trigger her to pull on ME. I only did it a few times, halting in a straight line after. When I landed and kept cantering after jumping it about 5 times, she was perfect because she thought I was going to halt her, so she cantered nice and slow :) Went to some more trot work, and she did begin to drag me tracking left a little bit, so I stayed well off the rail and counter-bent her pretty hard core until she went straight, not diagonally right! Finished up with a right lead canter that was super long. I just kept going, and going, and going. The draw reins helped her to stay within the contact, and I half halted pretty dramatically, really making the effort to LET GO, which is crucial to the working of a HALF halt. She threw about 5 lead changes during that final canter, but I didn't care, I just kept taking nice deep breaths and softening the contact as much and as often as possible.
Today, I had a fantastic horse! I rode her early in the day, and sans draw reins. I spent about 15 quality minutes at the walk. You may think initially that would be me copping out, but she is as hard to walk on contact as Tiki used to be. She wants to jig, get crooked, root, you name it. I pushed her on, gently squeezed my ring fingers, sat back, took deep breaths, and FINALLY got some super walk on contact! I had 3 different jumps set with 2 poles 9' apart. I then had just a single pole thrown in randomly. The task was not to jump, the task was to trot poles in perfect rhythm while staying straight.
I picked up the trot, and despite swishing her tail a few times, she was good other than being a little quick. I did loopy, 15 meterish circles until she forgot to try and bulldoze. I tried super hard to give my inside rein as much as possible, sit back, and not pull on her. I kept my hands together and my outside leg on, and felt like I really had a nice horse under me. That lasted until I asked for the right lead canter, lol. She THREW that head around, and tried to put her nose between her knees while she leaped in the air. I went back to trot, walked the poles some more, and asked again for canter. This time, she was good. Didn't hold it a super long time, but was VERY pleased by how responsive she was on the downward transitions.
Went back to trot, and she was so ready to walk at the poles, I was able to soften my reins, close my leg, and keep her trotting nice and slow over the poles. I went right then left and straight, just trying to keep her guessing and listening. Cantered left, and good girl! Trotted more poles, nice and slow. Counter flexed tracking left, and she stayed nice and soft. Tried a new thing at the end; after cantering both leads on small circles, I kept her going and cantered a pole. Of COURSE I got there long, and she leaped at it. I patted her, went back to trot, walked some poles, back to canter off the other lead. Deep and strong, but manageable. Back to trot, then canter ONE more time over the pole, and got there long again, but she waited! Good girl:) Today, she really felt like she could go just like a "normal" horse where you kick and do nothing with the reins. I know she'll get there; I've already felt such a big difference in her, I know the warm summer weather will help her to be even better :)