I know good things come with time, but what are something that I can do to really hep Rocket get a top line? I don't have any hills around me, and lunging him is usually just asking for him to be super hyped up the rest of the day. I heard about "tickling" there tummys to get them to arch their backs to help develop those muscles. Does this really work? I also know that lots of balanced up and down transitions help as well. I finally have a saddle that I think fits so hopefully he will be more willing to round up. Anything else I should be doing?
You need to work on pushing your horse from the hind end down into the bridle, not pulling them into a frame. You could lunge him once a week in side reins as well...that helps a lot. But whatever day you plan on doing it, I wouldn't ride him that day, just lunge. But mostly like you said. Time, with the proper flat work. Good luck!
I don't wanna type it all again bit I did a post in the "walk/jog walk/trot" (walk/trot - walk/jog) thread about topline, I put a link that explains some good exercises.... maybe they could help you a bit?
Because it can help to know; What you want isn't exactly to work the topline, itshould be relaxed, but to work the underside and hindquarters and let them stretch out the topline and keep the spie straightinstead of hollow :)
Knowing what to aim for more precisely can be useful.
To work on this I suggest first of all teach him to move front and hind independently; as in turning around his front or hindquarter, in balance and without just making a small circle but just move the front (if you're turning around the hindquarters) and so on. I'm not sure I'm making much sence..
Anyway, when/if that works, making figure 8 or S helps a lot since that means stepping under himself and balance.
I understand the concept of getting a horse to push from behind up and into the bridle, but I haven't ever been able to do it effectively.
And even after reading over most of that stuff, I don't really get how to do long and low either. I try to get Rocket to streach out at the walk and trot, and to really move up at the gaits, is that long and low?
Long and low is when the horse has a rounded neck but stretches the neck and nose down and forward. To get it, you need that the horse is following the bit, basically by asking lightly for him to yield for your hand and then gently and slowly sneaking him a little rein so that he follows the bit down. If you sneak it too fast he'll feel like he's dropping his head and starts holding it up. It's difficult, especially on horses that naturally carries their heads high. You don't want him to pull in the reins but in the start you might have to accept a little pressure from him and let him go down with it and reward. When he knows what you want you can ask him to not support (much) on the bit but work more with yielding for it.
To collect a horse takes time and skills :P the horse needs muscle to collect and in the start it's ok to be on the forehand as long as the back is raised. Once the aids and frame is reinforced, it'll be natural to ask for collection and get the hindlegs to carry by using your seat and legs without stressing the horse to go faster.
The legs mean ''get your butt in here'', not ''run faster'. The seat mean ''run faster'' and one leg individually can affect each of the horses hindlegs to change gait or tact.
That's a pretty good description of Long and Low and the whys behind it, if you need anything else. I also want to add, be careful if you do it and watch your horse's shoulder. Twende would shove his out during these exercises to try and get out of it.