It's been awhile since I've been able to update. So much to do, so little time. Renovations on the interior of the house have been keeping us extremely busy, which has left less time to work with G.
I've begun taking lessons under saddle with Lisa. Her approach is strictly classical which is very different than the modern dressage teachers. With her its all about relaxation, everything comes in its own time. This seems to be a better fit with my approach to horsemanship, as I've always tried to work more on G's clock than my own.
The first few minutes of the lesson is made up of doing some in hand work to prepare him for saddle work. I think it really makes a difference in his mindset, as this past Sunday he was more relaxed than I've ever seen him. We're stepping back a bit from where we are with Debbie. She has us working on transitions, from walk to halt, halt to backing up, and then moving forward. All with the use of seat aids. I did have to close my fingers the first few times for G to understand the new seat cue (think levitating lol) but after the third or fourth time he knew what I wanted. The best part of the session was the fact that G took two steps backward without lifting his head. This is huge. G has always hollowed out to back up, but yesterday he stayed relaxed. Lisa asked me to reward him even if I only get one step. She wants me to work hard at praising him for staying in a relaxed frame regardless of what we're doing.
I'm also having to work harder on my seat and posture, as she felt I was falling behind the vertical just enough to possibly be hindering G from rounding his back more. Not haven been told this before, now with my frame in line I do feel like I'm slightly forward of the vertical, but when I went by the windows outside I realized that she was spot on. Now I need to practice the new seat at all gaits. I'm hoping our new found teacher will help me reach between G's ears so he'll understand relaxation and it will become second nature.
It was interesting again as Lisa asked if she could ride him to see if she could get a true shoulder in from him. She managed one or two steps, but found that he is stiff. What I saw from the ground was the same thing I see any time someone strange gets on him. He gets more hollow, braced, and appears to be waiting for the hammer to fall. Sj said she believed his issues are between his ears, and I do believe she's absolutely correct. There are certain things I have been able to overcome with him, but submission is the toughest. So time will tell. Looking forward to our next lesson in a couple of weeks.