I've started bringing Spighi back into work after his month of holidays. He's been lunged in the Pessoa on it's longest setting, allowing him to stretch forward and down, for the last week, with a few short rides in between on the buckle in walk, trot and canter.
This morning I felt that he was strong enough again to carry a little more behind, so bought him back up into a shorter frame for a short period of time in trot. I had a bit of a light bulb moment in these few minutes. I think, previously I have been allowing the hand too much, so he takes the rein from me and ends up burying himself on his front legs. Once he's done that, I really struggle to get him back again.
So today, I demanded from the first step that he stay up, in front of my leg, and NOT take the rein from me. I've always been a bit nervous to hold the rein in fear of getting into a pulling match with him. But this morning I glued my elbows to my waist, got on my seatbones and kept my upper body rock solid. He wanted to come against the hand in the first instance, but soon the jaw and poll had relaxed, tension in the neck was gone and I was able to move him wherever I wanted. Had some lovely steps of shoulder in on both reins, and good quality 10m circles with no loss of balance or rhythm through rein changes.
Also got a really good feel of half halts on him. On every horse I really do believe that you need to adopt a particular method of giving a half halt. With Spighi the methods I've tried so far have been a little hit and miss, they just don't come all the way through like I would like them to.
This morning I rode the half halt in trot, like I was going to piaffe him. Upper body solid, keeping the energy of the hind legs and essentially 'folding' the horse together. Well did that work or did that work! Straight away, half half came through, croup lowered, hind legs became more active, and the jaw softened immediately.