My rides on Red and Pie continue to go extremely well, since I'm now more focussed on asking for softness from the first step and throughout our rides.
Red and I still struggle with initial softness - this shows up when we halt and back - he tend to brace just after the halt and to brace until he breaks loose in backing. But once we get to softness, he stays there and delivers some spectacular work - we got a perfect first walk/trot transition for the first time I can remember - because I waited until I was sure we had consistent softness. And his shortening/lengthening and stretching down work were wonderful, as was his canter work - lots of spring and forward. I do have to be careful not to let him slip over from "soft" into "light" - where he's exceptionally responsive and giving the appearance of softness, but mentally somewhat tense - I'm still learning to work just up to but not over that boundary effectively.
I had one of the best rides I've ever had on Pie today. His initial softness was there, and his walk work, halt and backing were excellent from the beginning. His trot work was lovely - forward and soft at the same time, with excellent bend, and his canter work was just plain outstanding - I think this is the first time he's been able to carry himself softly in canter for several laps of the ring on each lead, without falling in, pulling or falling on the forehand. Just a wonderful Pie . . .