I think we may be misunderstandeing each other, Anebel. When I say following and forgiving hands, I don't mean constant pulling and jerking in random ways. I'm talking about picking up a soft contact with the horse's mouth and maintaining the same feel. This takes the epitome of steady hands (I'm constantly trying to better my own), as the rider's hands need to move with the motion of the horse's head and neck as they move forward. This steadyness is especially evident at the walk and the canter, as the horse, whether collected or not, uses his head and neck within these gaits to balance, and the rider must be steady enough to maintain the same feel on the horse's mouth through this natural motion. My point on the side reins is that, especially at the canter, a contact that does not make allowances for the natural movement of the horse could encourage an unnaturally stiff head and neck carriage. As I said, I am not experienced with these tools, hence my reticence to rush out and buy them and ruin my horse through my inexperience, not the tool itself.
I do have a solid lunge and undersaddle cue that Scout has demonstrated that he does understand. The transitions promptly and pleasantly follow my cue (a firm, verbal, Can-TER). At this point, my cantering issues are basically the "trouble" left lead and the refinement that will follow the acheivement of basic correctness. Due to the lack of a solid left lead at this time, I have not yet begun refining the transitions. I do not want to continue forward on the right lead and have a gorgeous right lead with correct collection and impulsion, and a strung out wrong lead to the left, lol. The canter issues may even be my own impatience. I have only had this horse since mid-May, he is (ballpark) 7 years old, and as of mid-May his canter transitions included minor bucking, which is gone, or I wouldn't be fussing over leads, lol.
I won't go into my reasons for lateral flexion. What you are describing, Anebel, sounds like the textbook example of the final product, whichI have achieved on other horses using the same technique I have used on Scout, although a correct bend, on a circle, for example, does, in my understanding, include that bend following through the horse's neck to the same degree that his ribcage, etc., bend. My horses do not evade the bit, and they are soft in their faces and supple to turn. I am not asking for "different frames" and holding an unnatural lateral bend, I am asking for a soft and willing acceptance of the bit pressure laterally, then releasing and asking for straightness, which almost (this is a horse, not a machine) always follows. I also never called it longitudinal flexion, only lateral. I have never heard what I'm doing called longitudinal flexion, and if that is something that you have heard of that is incorrect, I apologize for spending time on the topic.
I am curious as to what you mean by an "normal" horse, and the hence "abnormal" horse who does not require extremely steady hands.
Thank you all so much for your posts! Unfortunately the rain continues. I can't wait to get into the arena and try some of these tips!!
Wow, that got long!!
A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown