I had my first lesson with Karin this morning and I think we are going to really work well together. Today was kind of a slow introduction so that she could see where we are. I think that Boomer gave her a pretty good representation of where we are at and also what he is capable of. We pretty much worked on a circle the whole time as she doesn't really feel that he is round enough to respond laterally to stay straight on the rail, which is why he so easily pushes through my leg is he doesn't want to go by the scary gate or whatever. Karin had me working on softening his neck/breaking at the poll/rounding the top line AND staying forward. In the past, I have gotten a little give and then I release. She taught me that I have to hold that contact and only release when he is round AND forward. So, he might not get the release right away, but it is there waiting for him when he stays round AND comes forward into the bridle. He started to really get that. She had me use my inside rein to get him to soften, then hold the outside rein when I ask for forward with me legs to keep him from raising up. Another reason for keeping us on a circle right now is that because he doesn't fully understand the rein contact, he (and many young horses) have some fear when both reins are taken up at once instead of one at a time, asking for bend. So, we have to work up to straight lines once he is stronger through the back and more accepting onthe contact. We worked a little at transitions and keeping him round, which was difficult. She helped me time when to ask based on how round he was. One of our canter departs was really improved as he was actually giving with his neck instead of rushing and pushing through his chest. It was nice to have her input to tell me to be more firm when asking for contact and he wasn't giving. On my own, if he resists I let him slow down and stay steady on the reins until he gives. Karin had me pushing him forward and had me really stay after him with a firm inside rein until he gave. It was really nice to have someone there saying "wait for him, keep hanging in there, he will come down, wait for him". She helped me discover the use of my outside rein today as well. When on a circle, if he starts falling in, I just use me inside leg to push him over. She had me get him round with the inside rein, THEN use the outside rein plus inside leg and he moved right over! I couldn't believe how easy that was! We also did a little leg yields at the walk and she said that it was coming along very well and again to use the outside rein. I had been feeling that his hind end was trailing, but she had me use my outside rein to straighten his shoulders and all of a sudden he was much more straight and getting much better lateral movement!
So, good ride today. I am looking forward to hearing more "lean back, shoulders back, more back" and "push forward with your seat, cluck, more forward, leg". I have my work cut out for me!
And because I am a proud mom, I have to brag for Boomer... Karin said that he has a good work ethic and because he is so sensitive and gives easily that we should progress quickly. She also said that she likes how he always has his ears back listening to me and is very animated and expressive. Aww, Boomer!