On the ground it is amazing so far. I have been able to achieve a transition without using a whip or carrot stick. I started using a target to lead him. At first it was confusing for him and he barely offered or took his sweet time trotting faster and faster. Now he will do it straight from a walk. Sure wish he would do it under saddle!
It seems like he doesn't totally understand the verbal cue under saddle or is very unbalanced. He does know the verbal means to go faster, but breaking into that canter is just too hard. We managed to enter a canter a few times, but it is not coming naturally or quickly. Only one time did he offer it and it was a beautiful transition. I'm not sure what happened there. He just got going and we were suddenly in a canter. Urgh!
Because he tends to speed up and rush, he loses his balance. I try to bring him back and ask again but most of the time I get nothing but rushing. So I've been at least trying to reward speed ups so that he doesn't get frustrated for not being rewarded while he is actually trying.
This is all challenging for a rider, because a) you get focused on the transition and b) your body is trying so hard to prepare for and canter, that you can end up making the balance issues worse. I'm trying not to pump!
Eventually he gets bored or tired and will get nappy.
He will also fool me sometimes with a weight throw. It feels like a canter transition but nope. Sometimes I end up rewarding it by accident. Not sure if maybe I should try to reward it quite a few times, and then eventually hold out for better performance. It's worth a shot.
He does try, but you can tell he struggles just to keep his head straight and also keep the quarters out. As usual, one of them is always wrong. I've been trying with a surcingle and ropes to help him keep his bend on one end or the other. This means he has a rope attached to his head collar and a rope around his bum to provide a bit of resistance when he tries to fail on one end. Certainly, I don't FORCE him there. It's more of a bio-feedback than pressuring him to do something. I just had to teach him that a rope pulled around his bum means move toward me.
His favorite move is getting better on both sides. We've also been trying it on the ground at a trot and I think that helps. Sometimes I have to ask for head straight since he wants to travel in shoulder-in all the time!
I haven't been lunging quite so much so he's gotten a bit weak here. I've been asking and not getting a response sometimes.I now see that without the carrot stick, a lot of the behaviors are quite weak - like staying out on the circle, not being so close in. Go faster, etc. So I have a lot of work ahead of me to get him to voluntarily offer these behaviors and do it with self carriage to boot.
Other stuff we just play with, like going over poles and jumps, A to B's - I was trying to get him to go target a cone away from me. That is really hard. He really doesn't like to stand to far away.
He continues to throw stuff if we aren't doing something, like a back up. Or he will push a bit. The back up looks less "muggy" than pushing into me, but it is still "throwing" a behavior. Hannah said that for tension issues, we should add more downtime into sessions, even when we aren't having tension. Reward him for being relaxed during downtime and doing nothing. Otherwise he may find downtime confusing and frustrating when we have to use it during tension fits. If he is insistent, I can also put him out on a circle and just chat with him but no rewards until he calms down. Then at least I'm not completely shut off (ignoring him) which might be confusing. Once he calms down we can start again.