I had an interesting ride on Sunday. I have been given the opportunity to borrow another boarder's saddle. It is a Wintec 2000 All-Purpose saddle. Definitely not what I would choose for myself, but it fits Boomer and that is what matters. He seems to go well in it. I could feel him moving out more freely at the trot and if he braced through the neck, he didn't brace his back as well. I didn't realize he had been bracing his back until I used this saddle on him and I could feel a difference in how he resisted. Occasionally, he still tosses his head against the bit, not often, but it is his 'go-to' trick when he needs to express himself. However, with this new saddle, he only braced through the jaw and poll and his shoulders and back stayed free. Because it is an AP saddle which is a blend between a close contact and a dressage saddle, I didn't feel much difference in my seat or stability. I was still able to default to tipping forward pretty easily. But, this isn't about me. I actually really like the saddle and I am thrilled that I can use it as often as I want!
One fun thing we did in our ride was work a little on counter canter. I was so pleased with Boomer's cantering that we just tried a few little serpentines. His canter has slowed and balanced so much lately! He doesn't rush around and feel panicky at all anymore! He was very soft and listening well, so I just asked him to come off the rail and go to the centerline and come back to the rail. This exercise makes sure he is balanced, listening to me, and staying strong in his hind end. It requires him to return to the rail on the 'wrong' lead- his leading leg is on the outside of the bend. It takes a lot of mental and physical work for him to maintain the lead I asked for. I was very happy with how easily he did that without any anxiety! I think for our next ride I will do the counter canter serpentines again and I think I will also ask him for some smaller circles at the canter as well.