Thunder’s main issue is thinking I want him to canter when I add any leg at all. Previous owner never trotted, apparently. I thought I would work him over some trot poles to get him to slow down and think about where he was putting his feet. If nothing else they would force him to trot instead of canter. What I learned from this exercise is that I need to raise my stirrups one hole if I’m going to be in two point. I also learned that trot poles are awesome and get a horse to slow down and use his noodle.
My hands look like crap in this picture. I’m aware. Stirrups need to come up a hole too.
I think Thunder is naturally a nicer mover than Baron. He has more suspension and he seems to move effortlessly across the ground. I’ll try to get some video of him trotting in the pasture. You know those really cute ponies who have what they call “daisy cutter” movement? Thunder reminds me of that. The trick is to bring that out of him under saddle.
My game plan with him hasn’t changed. It’s basically lots of lots of trail riding with light contact to build muscle and relax. When we’re not on the trails I’ll add in some trot poles to keep him thinking and some typical dressage-ey stuff (serpentines, big circles) to work on balance and bending. He has to learn to carry himself and me as well and there’s no trick or shortcut for that. He’ll get it eventually if I keep riding him correctly. Even though I’d like him to do hunter/jumpers eventually, I have no plans of jumping anything any time soon. We have way too much work to do on the flat.
He is starting to stretch down and chew the bit. We have moments where he lowers his head and stretches, so I know he’s catching on. I want to tell him that it’s okay to chill out and stretch. The other day we rode in the vacant lot and I have no pictures but it was magical. We had long sequences of him stretching down, accepting the contact and moving really loosely. It was all at the walk, but hey, it’s a start! Any suggestions on encouraging him to stretch down are appreciated!