We are still continuing to work with lightening the shoulders, soft response to cues and so on. But as always there is still something that needs to be added to make things even better. This week it is vertical flexion. Basically he knows how to weight shift, he just can't hold it for very long. Some of that is muscle strength over time, the other part is vertical flexion.
I've been teaching him to lift his head and tuck his chin. He did the first session all sloppy but he got the gist of it. The second session he was much better but had loads of energy and kept bobbing his head like a cockatoo, even after I had ridden him. So I focused more on the riding parts before I lost my mind. He can get very excited about training and sometimes I actually have to either move on or start only rewarding calm offers because rewarding tense ones will eventually become a bad thing.
The other thing we are working on is more energy under saddle. He's excellent on the ground and will trot and act silly. In the saddle he plods along like I'm just too fat to carry lol. So I started on the ground asking for halt to trot transitions to get him revved up. Then I got on and asked for a walk to trot transition and it was amazing. He was so light off the leg. That is like a first. Good boy, lots of rewards.
The halt to walk transition still needs some work. He's even started backing up, as if he doesn't like it when I take up the contact and ask for forward movement. I reward forward movement but it is still so sluggish I almost want to stop, ask again and wait for a nice take off, even if it takes an hour. I don't want him to think I want foot dragging into a walk.
He is also acting up about the back corner again; in a span of two months he went from just swerving away from that corner to now doing everything he can to NOT go back there. Nothing even remotely bad has happened, other than what is in his head. This corner has a mirror and a fake plant which were sent straight up from the 7th level of hell, at least in his mind. One time I even had him WANTING to go to that corner. I let him free at the end of a lesson and he even went back there by himself which was incredible but I turned my back for a second and I heard him galloping away. It *ALMOST* ate him. So now we are back to hating the corner. We've had several discussions, one in which I got the most amazing side pass ever (shockingly towards that corner) and some very lively back ups. Seriously, could you offer these when you aren't being a dolt??? Yes he does eventually make it to the corner each time and is heavily rewarded. But honestly, I hope to hell this doesn't happen in our show.