Well I've just returned from the briefest visit to the UK; no time for visiting friends (flights didn't allow for it) and a 4.00am rise this morning to get the flight home. I feel like I'm holding my breath whilst I'm there, so much traffic and noise and too much choice of everything.....pubs, shops, hotels, magazines and anything else you can think of. I understand why lots of people who re-settled from the UK to France find it hard to adjust but I just find the quantity of everything rather baffling, lol, I guess I like things simple.
Talking of simplicity, I've been spending most of my time with Moo either walking out or in-hand/lunging in the school; working on the principle that he really needs to strengthen up before I advance the ridden work and I'm not sure my discipline skills are up to not trying too hard when on board ;-).
All of our in-hand work is done in a headcollar and lead or lunge, it's at least 6 years since I've lunged in anything else but the in-hand is a different story, I've used a bridle and worked off the bit always with this. I decided to ditch the bridle after working him in-hand in the hackamore worked so well.
OK that's the history, now to technique. Even when I plan for most of the work to be on the lunge I start with him in-hand. This is not only a barometer for me to see how he's moving but a nicely contained stretch and warm-up for him. To begin we just walk straight lines and corners, on and off the track. Then we start to bring the shoulder fore and add in a quarter turn on the forehand to change direction. Then maybe shoulder-in with some haunch and or shoulder yield. If we're lunging then we go onto transitions, spirals etc which I'll try and video as it will help me watch for any longer term improvement. If we are working in hand we may go forward to some reinback, trot, counter-shoulder fore/in and travers/half pass. The most amazing discovery for me has been the way I can influence him by the merest touch, for instance, if he brings around his head too much in the shoulder-in I can just use the tip of my fingers (at the side of his face) to realign it. If his neck looks 'held' somewhere I can use my fingers (or gently touch with the end of the whip) and he seems to react.
I used to truly believe that I couldn't work without a bit (sorry I know I labour on about this) not if I wanted to access all areas; now I wonder at what science (you KNOW I love science) I was relying on to support this? I know all about the recycling of energy from back to front and back again, I know about 'feeling' for resistances via the mouth but really and truly I wouldn't put a bit in my childs mouth (oh lord don't tempt me) to 'feel' anything and I KNOW horses ain't humans but......it's making me return to old values with new light on them. Any thoughts on this guys?