It's always amazing to me how things sometimes come together after a break - Dawn and I didn't work yesterday. She was on the verge of consistent softening at the trot in our last work session, and it all just fell into place for her today. I think the time for the horse to mentally process the work is very important, although it cuts against our human tendency to often rush and push through the work. Those mental breaks, and physical ones too when the work requires physical remodeling of muscles as in Dawn's case - she's learning to carry herself differently than she's used to - can be critical to success. I think breaks also contribute to mental and emotional softness - the horse doesn't feel pressured or pushed. This is something I've had to learn - I'm naturally a pretty goal-oriented person but am learning (from my horses) that it's the process and all the intermediate steps that are important and the goal will be along when we get there. It's a very fine line between making sure that you get the horse to a better place, where something positive has been achieved, and pushing past that point, particularly if the horse is tiring, and losing the good in the search for the perfect. I think now, that if I can build on the good, the better will be along very soon.
I've taken Mark Rashid's advice at the clinic to heart - he advocates a 3 days on/1 day off or 5 days on/2 days off schedule, and I'm trying to mostly stick with that - our weather usually results in some unplanned days off anyway. I'm also making sure to take rest breaks as my horses learn new things, to give them time during the work sessions to think about things.