Louie and I have been working pretty hard in the long lines the past few weeks. By the way, the only reason I say I'm working hard is because my running to keep up with him usually renders me breathless. It has got to be hilarious listening to my verbal cues to him as I'm huffing, then clucking, then huffing, it's amazing I'm able to communicate at all breathing like that lol. Anyhow, we've been working on the usual, steering, transitions, halt/stand, bending and flexing, serpentines, ground poles, etc. And, we've been working a lot more in the past few sessions on speed variation.
I had been asking Louie to extend his stride at the walk by clucking with each stride and that had been working great, producing 12" of over stride at times. So, I thought we should probably work on the converse, asking him to slow down, take shorter steps, and cover less ground. We started with the trot and were met with a little bit of resistance at first, over-flexion, pulling, and bit chewing, but after a few tries, this smart horse had it figured out. Our slower speed in the trot is not yet super consistent, sometimes like a working/sitting english trot, sometimes a western jog, but we do have both the ability to slow down and to speed up on command now. We have worked on this at both the walk and the trot, and hopefully someday, this lesson will translate to the canter.
It is interesting to note, and maybe it is because I have to pull back on the reins a little bit, or perhaps it has to do with the natural headset changes of "collection" and "extension," but Louie naturally raises his head when he slows down, taking on more of a traditional saddle seat headset. Then when he moves out into a more extended, ground-covering gait, he lowers his head and almost reaches down for the bit. I would imagine this is probably the result of my cues rather than true extension and collection, but hey, we can pretend! Overall, I'm quite happy with his performance the past few sessions, proving that he has more than two different gears.