I have had some interesting thoughts lately about Boomer and collection and impulsion. Fortunately, I have just come across a couple of blogs that really hit home. Glenshee Equestrian Centre and Dressage In Jeans really hit it home for me. I have noticed lately that Boomer has been really reaching down and forward at the walk. I have really been focusing on riding him on a loose rein at the walk. Well, let me rephrase that, light contack, not loose rein. For those of you familiar with english laced reins, I keep my thumbs at the last lace. So, they are pretty long, but not loose. I have contack with his mouth, but he is able to relax and stretch out. I have noticed lately that he is doing a kind of peanut pusher head position. He is looking for contact with my hands and is lowering his head while kind of arching and stretching his neck. I like that. I think it keeps him relaxed. I'm not really sure how to tell if it is helping him engage his back. At the trot, I tighten the reins up about 2-3 laces (probably 2-3 inches?) and I have noticed him stretching down and out for a few strides at a time. I think that I need to continue to encourage this and really learn to feel him and allow him to keep contact while he streches. It is strange, because we have contact already, but he pulls forward yet doesn't pull on my hands. He has never 'rooted' or pulled the reins out of my hands. Coming from a background of high headed saddle seat horses, it is somewhat of a new idea for me to allow him to drop so low. I have also noticed that if he gets excited, it really helps for me to do lots of small circles with him which encourages him to drop his head. I am thinking that it may help his cantering if I allow him to have a looser rein, which is hard for me to reconcile because of his predictable 'canter depart buck'. These are all interesting things to think about and I would love to hear any feedback or ideas from readers!
Not sure if I gave an update after yesterday's ride, but it went well. I rode in the paddock/arena and worked on cantering. The canter takes quite the set up. We have to do lots of small trotting circles and figure eights until he is very relaxed and not rushing around the corners in anticipation. Once he gets it, I must ride it carefully, keeping him in the gait and balancing around the turns towards the outside. His good lead is the left and yesterday we got 4 and a half laps around the arena!!! To the right we got 2 laps! He bucked once the first time I asked but never after that. I think it is just excitement for him. I dismounted him as slowly as possible and slid down so slowly until my toes touched the ground. Narry a pinned ear the whole time! I think it really was a fast movement/surprise thing for him, because I lean pretty heavily as I slide down slowly and it doesn't seem to bother him.
I worked Pete today and he is still progressing. We did a little round pen work before I rode and then we mostly worked on walking with a little trotting thrown in to make sure he remembered how to trot around a turn. We worked on introducing lateral aids, backing, and neck reining. He is doing well.
I dewormed Boomer today and he was really pretty good about it. Of course, I don't expect him to like it but I sure appreciate it when he doesn't rear up or otherwise act like a fool. After I finished with Pete and did my chores, I spent some bonding time with Boomer. He really likes to be scratched under his lip and I was grooming him all over and playing with his mane and he was about to fall asleep. He really enjoys our bonding time, I think. I have been trying to work on messing with his tail lately to get him ready for temperature taking. He is getting to where he doesn't mind if I lift his tail and rub his rump, but he doesn't always like it and I am probably a little overly cautious. I don't want to get kicked, that is for sure! I'm not sure the best way to go about 'temp training' but it seems like this is taking me a really long time to get it done. Any ideas?