I have been watching the first two of Philippe Karl’s DVDs again. I think that Bella is ready to work with her neck a little higher now. She is very strong and well muscled in her back and hind quarters, and really swinging through her back in trot with a fairly low head carriage ( reins swinging loose too).
I wondered if I could get her to lift her neck and head in the way Phillipe Karl shows, but without actually using the bit to mechanically lift her head – just use the suggestion of a lift from my hands, but without making real contact with her mouth. The Click That Teaches has made her very sensitive to following this sort of suggestion, so this was instantly successful. I lift my hands and she knows I want something, so her head comes up and her balance goes backwards, while she waits to find out what it is that I want. I dropped the reins and clicked that to begin with, then kept my hands up and waited, meaning more please. She thought about it and then dropped her nose, engaged her hind legs more and started to rein back. I clicked that a few times and then asked for forward movement after a few strides of rein back, and then before them, keeping my hands up. Both of these gave me a few strides of soft, engaged and beautiful collected walk. Her back felt really inflated underneath me. WOW!!!!
When she could manage to keep her balance easily in collected walk I asked for trot. I couldn’t believe what I got! The rhythm of her trot was instantly slower and higher. We had real CADENCE!!!! She has always had a rather stompy trot naturally (some Dales can tend to be lots of action behind, but not really going anywhere much). She had already learnt how to swing her shoulders to match her hind legs, which had made her trot bigger and silky smooth, but this is proper dressage horse stuff, moments of real collection!!! We only do a few strides at a time, but it is so exciting and so different from anything I had known her to be capable of before. Our horizons seem vast now – the possibilities huge!