Drift and I had a good work session too, although he was pretty wound up and distracted and took a good while to settle - we did more lungeing than normal and it took a long time at the walk to begin to get some relaxation. Then we moved on to trot. Drift and I have barely scratched the surface of his trot work. On a loose or long rein, he rushes, braces/pushes down on the bit and falls on the forehand. If you take up contact, he rushes and curls up behind the vertical, which also means he's on the forehand - in neither case is he soft, relaxed or rhythmical - this is quite how Dawn was when we started her softening work - if you look at the photo essays in the "Working Towards Softness" sidebar you'll see other examples. I rather suspect at some time in his past he was ridden a lot in drawreins. When he curls up, it looks like this - pretty ugly (I'm not pulling on him here but rather trying not to give him a release when he's in this position):
As our work progressed, there were glimmers of progress as he began to relax a bit:
In the second photo above, you'll note that in addition to his face being behind the vertical (although not as badly as before), his neck is "broken" at a point several vertebrae down from his poll - there's a brace in there.
Finally, we got something a little better:
This isn't too bad, and I like his expression - there's almost a Zen face and his ears are relaxed - although note in the enlarged header photo that he's still keeping an eye on the photographer so he's not completely focussed and relaxed - and my contact is very soft and he's engaged behind. Due to his build, his head carriage may always be this high, but we'll have to see. Paradoxically, I need more forward to get this softness - it's when he's cramped up and tense and rushing that he curls up or braces. To see that he's able to do this bit of relaxation and softening, although at this point inconsistently - he's not completely sure of what I want yet - is very encouraging. (And thanks to our wonderful p.m. barn lady for the pictures!)
And here's my good Drift after our work session - he's finally pretty relaxed, although still alert:
And then to finish things off, we did some more trailer loading (see yesterday's post for our first, fairly long, session). I led him over to the trailer, and after a token show of resistance involving a little fish-tailing and one pull back, on he walked - it took about 3 minutes. We did it one more time because I wanted him to stand on the trailer for a moment until I asked him to back out rather than deciding to back out himself. After only about a minute, on he got, and stood nicely with his head out the window until I asked him to back off after about 10 seconds. He's a smart boy and has figured out that getting on the trailer quickly is less work for him than trying not to get on the trailer, since he's going to get on the trailer in any event. We're not to my objective yet, which is to just lead onto the trailer like Pie does, but we'll get there. Good Drift!