Looks like I've been doing an awesome job updating this!
Goodness we've come so far. No more baby brain, way better out on trails, and much more balanced in general.
We had the most amazing ride last night and it was such a breakthrough! He was getting sticky feet for awhile when asking for the lope, and I was eventually having to escalate to spanking with the reins almost every time I asked. Very frustrating, so I tried something different. Basically it was the cruising exercise that CA uses.
Asked with seat, asked with voice, then over under whip until he goes. Loose rein the whole time, no interference with his face at all. Only took him twice that ride, which tells me that I may have been pulling on him accidentally while using the reins to spank.
Once he got it, I let him go wherever (though he was smart enough to stay mostly on the edge of the arena) and just drove his back end, no pressure on the reins. Butt came under. Back came up. Shoulders opened. Head leveled and on the vertical.
Holy cow. Why did I not do this before?!
I stayed one handed the entire ride, not even using the reins most of the ride. Even while schooling circles, side passes and poles! He seemed much happier after such a nice ride, too.
I just HAD to post something about it. I'm terribly proud of us both.