JJ got back from FL on Friday, so we did my first lesson on Saturday morning. Hans had Friday off, so this was a basic work session in the snaffle. I spend a lot of time focusing on coaching Hans to more honesty in the connection in the right rein. He’s a very light horse, but often too light–he doesn’t always draw on the bit in an elastic way. I also focus a lot on loosening exercises as he has a tendency to hold a bit of tension in his back.
After my usual basic walk/trot/canter warmup, we started with some head to the wall leg yielding to help get him to loosen his back and hips up more. JJ had me think about slowing him down slightly so that he took a more deliberate step vs being too hasty off the ground. I also had to make sure that he wasn’t wiggling out of alignment–Hans is very easy laterally, but this also makes it very difficult to keep him “stacked up” all the time. When you drive with one leg, he’ll often sneak out a shoulder or a hind leg. So I need to think about keeping him funneled in between both legs and reins, regardless of what I’m doing. Knee and thigh pressure is particularly helpful with him. From there we played with different bits of lateral work in the trot, working on the feeling that I can step his right hind leg up to the bit. Letting him “marinate” in a shape and gently encouraging him with light taps of the stick to step more honestly to the bridle works wonders to get him feeling more honest in the connection.
In the canter, we worked on spiraling in and out in the canter, once again keeping him channeled in between my aids. To the left, I really have to think about almost riding renvers–he loves to overbend his neck left and pop out the right shoulder. So we played with varying degrees of a bit of renvers right. Eventually this needs to become more true shoulder-fore left, but until I have a better connection in the right rein it’s too easy for him to sneak out to the right. We also worked in some easy mediums to open him up and get his canter rolling a bit more over the ground.