Jake has been coming along very nicely. All the flat work is starting to come together and I am a very happy rider, and he is becoming a happier horse. We now have a good understanding of half halt, and we are really starting to work on getting him to work long and low while stepping up underneath himself. He takes a bit of warm up and exercises, but most of our rides end with him working great.
One remaining huge issue I am having is with downward transitions. I would like some ideas on what I should be doing, and possible exercises. I have an instructor that is help me, but I love to hear other ideas, so If you had a horse with this problem what would you do?
I used to just slam the downward transition down at once with no warning. As that has proved ineffective I am now trying to do lots of preparation to get him to hold himself together. So for example, if I'm trotting wanting to go to a walk, I will do a few half halts, get him on the bit and rounded, and when he is listening I sit deep, relax my hands to allow him to stretch out, in the hopes that he drops down with me.
Now what he does, as soon as he figures out I'm asking for a slower transition he throws his body heavily onto the forehand, throws himself into the bit, very hard. Gets behind the bit and pulls down/out HARD and will either drop into a uncoordinated for of the lower gait, or rocket off into a strung out, very heavy on the front extended gait.
Most of the time my walk-stop is fine, with him merely dropping the weight of his head into the bit. The trot-walk is the same, he just stops supporting his own head. The canter to trot is horrible. Normally soon as I sit deep he explodes into a trot that was a lot faster than our canter, pulling hard on the reins and it takes all my will power to slow my post and put some leg on to try and bring him up underneath himself, carry his own freakin head and slow down.
He pulls hard enough that it looks like I'm pulling the heck out of his mouth (tongue out, mouth agape, neck tense) when I just try and hold the reins. I am NOT pulling, just holding while he pulls against me. If he backs off the bit, I keep my hands in the same place and try to slow him with my seat.
If I just hold and go with him, he would not slow down on his own. He would continue to blast around the arena. It takes 3-4 half halts to get him off the fore if I use those. Giving him his head (throwing away the reins) makes him confused and stressed. My trainer currently just has me pushing him up and trying to do less half halts, but make the few more meaningful with my seat.
Now what would you do if you were riding him?