Willow has a really long neck. You'd think, given that nice, long neck, that giving through the whole length of it would be rather easy. It's only those short-necked horses that lock up, right? Ha! Willow just loves to give only at the poll and hold the rest of her neck flat and straight. Or, at least, she used to love to do that. Trainer Leslie has been giving me many training tips on getting Willow to let go at the base of her neck, creating that lovely arch we all seek. As you might imagine, a horse that holds its neck flat and straight by default will travel on its forehand. It needs to give at the base of the neck and lift through the wither to allow the weight to shift back.
In the last month Willow has really changed through the neck. I don't have that flat, locked feeling through the reins anymore. It's a much more rubberbandy feeling now. We did have two weeks where Willow thought she'd try one more time to intimidate me out of this whole giving-through-the-neck thing. She started threatening to rear, and then a few days later threw in some actual rearing. Bad mare! I found that when I felt her gather her rear legs forward underneath herself, if I pitched myself forward and took one rein far down and sideways, pushing with the leg on the same side, I could get her to spin out of it before she went up. "Curses! Foiled again!" Willow thought.
When stuff like that happens, it's so helpful to have a trainer to be eyes on the ground and tell you if your horse can't do what you're asking or is just being a royal beeyotch. With Willow, it was the latter, says Leslie. And here it is two weeks later, things are going great, and no more rearing.
The canter is feeling so great right now. I even got a tossed off "Looks really good!" from the head trainer the other night, and she's not one to pipe up with praise, like, ever. Willow's off my hand, taking the half halts, and starting to develop that lofty feeling in front. Walk-canter-walk is coming right along, as area shoulder-in and travers in canter.
The Ovation wide-calf boots arrived, and fit OK except for being a little gappy at the top. Good enough. I'm still grumpy about having to wear a wide-calf anything.