This is a 7 year old arab/paso cross. I've owned him since he was 4 months old, and I've done all the training on him. When he was started, he was lazy and sticky, and didn't have a forward button. He has been started VERY slow because he's been butt high forever. Last year, he finally started leveling up and becoming balanced, and we really started working him. He was going good, with the help of a few friends, when life intervened and I moved across country. So, after about six months off, we've come back to work. And this is what I have now.
Instead of sticky and balky, he is getting quick. I actually like it better, it's easier to fix than sticky. So, no real complaints. He is upside down (he's had a ewe neck since he was 4 months old, not sure if that is fixable at this point or not). He resents any contact with the bit, but is better than he was.
His trot is really smooth. I promise I was posting, just not much. He used to fight tooth and nail going into a canter. Part of that was his stickiness, part was me because I had some fear issues to work through. Interestingly enough, his canter depart is MUCH better, just a little swishy tail. Yay!
So, what do you think? What do we need to do to improve his carriage? Any ideas on how to get a bit more lift from those front feet? He has such a smooth stride, he barely picks his feet up, and as a result can get trippy. I'd love to hear your comments, good and bad.
Oh, and yes, I absolutly was riding in scrubs and tennis shoes, I came to the barn from work. My saddle is a Freeform treeless. Merlin is barefoot. He's in a plain, boring snaffle bit.
(let me know if the link doesn't work. I think I did it right....)
Try slowing his trot down - it will give him more time to be suspended. When you start to slow him, he may well shorten up rather than slow and keep the same length of stride, but just keep asking him to slow down, only about 3 stride at first, and then push him on out again. Next time make it 4 strides. This will make his trot bouncier and bigger. Be prepard to rise more and more slowly!
Push your saddle back by heaps. If he is still low in front and has a weak neck, it may pay to put a crupper on until he muscles up. There is no way he's going to build up in front or lift his front end with his shoulders being pinched and weighted the way they are.
I really like that you ride him on a soft rein, and he takes it forward and down. The above are two ideas that are easy to do and could make a world of difference.
Thank you those that looked an commented. I'm a little sad that only two people did though...
Phoebe, yes, he was quick yesterday. Because he normally is slow and sticky, I'm going to have to work on figuring out how to slow down the stride without losing the forward. I'll work on that.
My saddle is forward, but it shouldn't be pinching his shoulders. It is treeless and flexes nicely. His shoulder is set VERY far back, and every treed saddle we've tried have pinched those shoulders. He tells me quite plainly when that happens. I will try moving it back to pull me back some, and see if that helps. Upon watching the ride again, I was tipping forward just a hair. Fixing that might help too.
Cindy, you are right, my stirrups are long. I have bad knees, and I tend to keep them long. I'll pop them up a hole and see if that doesn't help both of us. If it hurts, I can always move them back where I started.