I had her in the indoor today and we worked on maintaining a consistent roundness in several speeds of trot for several circles while lunging in the cordeo. She did great. I then started playing with canter, seeing if I could surprise her into it from the walk so that she wouldn’t rush around and make herself upset. It worked to a point, but not quite as well as I’d want – too much pressure and not enough feeling of release/freedom.
|Tracking right this longer frame is quite typical for her. Tracking left it is usually more upright.|
Speed and Connection in Liberty
Therefore, I put her at liberty and decided to see if she’d feel more freed up to canter that way. She was much better and did canter around for a while, at which point I started playing with faster liberty work. She was nearly perfect about not turning her hindquarters to me, which allowed it to work.
I’d send her away and draw her back at speed, then have her switch directions through the inside and playfully have her blast off again. She did great and started offering collection at the trot (she often forgets “how” to do that without a cordeo to remind her) and even a few strides of a more relaxed canter (all of her cantering right now is hollow and counterbent).
Riding -- Bend and Tackless Half Halt
I put the bitless bridle and cordeo on her and hopped on bareback. I switched back and forth between riding with the bridle (on looped contact; meaning, the reins are heavy enough that I don’t have full contact, but there is still a connection there) and just the cordeo.
We mostly worked at figure-8s at the walk (not an endless pattern, but that was the idea – circle one way at different circle sizes, circle the other way in a different part of the arena, etc.) and some trotting at the end.
The two things I worked on mostly were bend and mental/physical connection. For the former, I would use my inside heel and be very careful to only block with my rein/cordeo if she tried to turn (NOT create a turn with it, but merely block the wrong turn). ONLY blocking movement with the tack worked wonderfully in keeping her main focus on my body, not on the tack.
For the latter, it was a continued part of my quest to gain roundness and mental/physical connection, as she can be bent correctly while still plowing along, unbalanced and totally out of sync with me. I experimented with various things until I found that a quick squeeze with my knees/thighs started to collect her mentally and physically. Through the course of the session, I developed that into a knee/heel squeeze, which was more effective. So basically, if she started to get out of dance-harmony with me or get unbalanced, I’d give her a squeeze with my knees/heels (hardness of the squeeze depending on how unbalanced she was getting) and sometimes support with a bit of feel on the reins/cordeo and she’d pop herself back up into good balance again.
So basically, the knee/heel squeeze is a half halt. I want to start doing that at the halt as well and teach her how to shift her weight back or even do a low levade with it. I feel like if she could really connect knee/heel squeeze with a complete shift of weight up and back (levade), that would be the culmination of the half halt (full collection – no weight on the forehand) and she would understand the moving half halt (in walk, trot, or canter) much better.