The ride today was interesting. It started out really rough with Boomer insisting on being a giraffe. It took a good 15 minutes of trotting before he would give and come down. From there were were about 70%, which isn't half bad ;)
I was really impressed with the ride as we had continual improvement for the whole ride. I rode for over an hour because I really wanted to keep working out the kinks, and things kept getting better. Boomer was offering some really great swinging trot along the long side of the arena (straight lines!). Our left lead canter is getting much better. Boomer seems to know what I am asking for and tries. I am going to really make an effort to make as many canter transitions as possible during our rides. I am very guilty of cantering once in each direction and calling it quits. No more! Today I wanted 5 transitions in each direction. I got 5 to the left and each was better than the first. However to the right, I got one, then a whole bunch of fighting. He would slam his head up and start death trotting around, when I slowed him down he would suck behind my leg and jig instead of trotting. If he so much as felt a leg on him he would slide his hind end around like a car on ice. After working through all of that, I could use my seat and really get him trotting forward again, but each time I asked for the canter I go the same response. So, I gave up on the right lead (bad rider), got some good connected trotting, and got off. However, being stubborn, I hooked him back up to the lunge and elastic rein* and made him do 5 canter transitions. He still threw up his head and rushed, but not as bad. Towards the end he offered to stretch down and relax for a few strides at the canter for the first time ever. We called it quits after that.
*The elastic rein we are using is sort of like a chambon. It is a 6' long elastic cord with snaps at the ends and a sliding keeper in the middle. You lay it over the poll, thread through the bit, and connect to the girth between the legs. It can be tightened at the poll, as needed. The idea is that when he has his neck and head up, there is poll and bit pressure, when he drops down there is a release. It isn't so tight that it forces him to hold any given position and it is elastic and has plenty of give for him to play with while he gets his balance. My trainer has me lunge before riding in it to let Boomer feel where he is supposed to be before we start really working. I think it is a really useful tool. Today was the first time I had him canter in it and Karin wants me to start cantering him on the lunge before we ride to get him to start finding his balance. She thinks that will help with our canter issues under saddle.
Oh, we get foam almost every ride now! Yay!