A couple of examples:
Transitions are a particular issue, particularly upwards transitions. It's pretty clear that the way I'm adding energy to the equation doesn't always work for Red and Pie - with Red on the first (but usually only the first) walk/trot transition, I often get a moment of bracing/balking/resistance before he trots - although things are better than they were because he no longer bursts into canter as he once did. Red's and my trot/canter transitions are much better than they've been. With Pie, he often surges into trot and canter rather than smoothly transitioning up. Downwards transitions are better, although with both horses, if I don't concentrate on the smoothness of dialing our energy down, the transitions can be abrupt.
With Red and Pie I also find that sometimes we have initial trouble establishing softness together, and there is often some bracing in our early trot work and on our first attempts at backing. As our rides progress, that goes away and we've got very good mutual softness. This issue is clearly related to Red's and my difficulties with our very first walk/trot transition.
We're pretty good within gaits at maintaining our softness together, and this is even beginning to be the case at the canter, although we're more likely to lose our mutual softness there than at the walk or trot, and keeping softness at the trot after canter work can be a challenge.Interestingly enough, I have few of these issues with Dawn. I expect that is because I am much more able to concentrate and stay tuned in to her, due to my care to respect her extreme sensitivity, the fact that we've been working together now for going on five years, and the fact that I ride her in the early morning when there are no distractions in the arena and I'm at my best time of day. With Dawn, the issue is softness and calmness within the canter - we're now more able to recover softness after canter work but softness and relaxation within the canter is still an issue.
Hmmm . . . food for thought . . . more in the next post - the reference to train cars will become clearer . . .