We had a great lesson with Joan yesterday. We worked on so many things - at my request! After warming up we worked on ramener - introduction to collection. It goes: push with seat, squeeze with legs, light as air feel with hands - very quickly in that order - hold (feel needed, a few strides at this point) and release. It engages the hindquarters and lightens the forehand and prepares the horse for future collection. A quick on /off of this aid gives a half halt (although from my reading it seems there are more versions of the half halt aid than heinz has pickles, perhaps useful in different situations, i.e. one side, both sides, etc.).
We tried this at all three gaits, with varying levels of success. Rogo seems to be one of these horses who does better at canter than trot. He doesn't really want to trot, needs lots of encouragement to trot, gets a little cranky when first asked to trot, etc. However once he's warmed up at the walk he'll happily canter and try hard to understand and respond to the new things we're trying - lengthening and shortening stride, a little counter canter (will have to go on hold until we can ride outside again in the spring), 20 and 15 m circles, etc. He doesn't ace them all by a long shot, but he tries and is happy to work on them. Trot is a different story, so the ramener in trot was less than stellar :)
On a side note - does anyone care to offer an opinion as to whether Rogo is likely to become more willing to work in the trot as his training progresses? He gets better the longer the ride goes on, and by the end of a ride he is responding much better in trot.
Savanah is the opposite - she does better in the trot than the canter.
We also worked on shoulder in and halt. Both Rogo and Savanah are making good progress there (well, Savanah already has an excellent straight, square halt).
Our daughter and Doug's father and brother showed up. It was fun.
Here is a picture of Rogo in the cross ties getting tacked up for our lesson:
On a completely different note, I got some great responses to my last post, about how people's horses communicate with them. It's fascinating. Thanks very much for all of the shared stories.