Recently, Bar and I have added transitions to his round pen work--trot to walk to canter, back down, and back up again. He has gotten smoother and smoother whichever way we go, so today we worked on it under saddle.
First, we worked at a trot and on trot-to-walk-to-halt transitions. He even responded to the speed of my posting by slowing his trot accordingly.
Since we've never really worked on this under saddle, it was a little surprising that we got it together. Pleasantly so, but surprising nonetheless.
After we'd trotted for awhile, and done several successful speed and cadence changes, I took a deep breath and asked him for a canter. He picked up a beautiful, gentle stride while I managed to stay calm and rock with him in the saddle. We were both a little shocked, but managed to keep it together to work more on our transitions. He gave me fairly smooth downshifts into a trot, then a walk--all with minimal cues.
Quite an exhilarating and positive change. My own mental state is a huge part of it for sure, but his own confidence in his body and knowing what is expected of him is also key to our continued growth as horse and rider. Getting us on the same page with one another has been an ongoing struggle for the last two years--and there are still hurdles to overcome--but this was definitely a confidence-boosting ride for both of us.
He is trying, giving me room to train him to be a better horse as he teaches me to be a better rider.
The evolution continues and we count today as a good day.