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jestergurl200

I Think I'm about to lose it with him! -Update

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I am currently working a seven year old Quarter Horse gelding named Stetson for his owner. She wants to do dressage with him but when she comes out to ride, she pretty much just goes hacking. They hardly do ring work. Since she got him, she's been asking me to work him while she's gone. So I mostly do ring work with him (I don't like hacking him because he tends to take off). His ring work is currently terrible! He won't come on the bit, he does a short choppy trot, no matter how much I try to get him to relax, he always ends up trotting around with a really choppy stride and his head flung up as high as it will go. He won't bend to te right at all and ne pops his shoulder out going to the left. I just don'tknow what to do with him anymore.

I can't ride him in lessons because I am workig with another horse fo his owners in m lessons and his owner rides Stetson in a lesson an hour before mine (and I can't switch lessons).

I rode him lst night for about half an hour and I ended up quitting after I got half a circle of nice trot out of him. We did no canter work. I decided to end there because otherwise, I was goign to completely lose my temper with him (which wouldn't have helped anything).

I am at my wits end with this horse because I rode him all of last weekend and he was perfect but then last night and Wednesday night, he was a complete monster. While Iwas riding last night there was another boarder there watching me ride and she couldn't find anything that I was doing wrong to set him off. I have no idea what to do with him anymore and I am getting really frustrated because I can't work with him on a regular basis. But I also don't want to tell his owner that I don't want to work with him anymore because it might sound ungrateful (as I don't have my own horse and am not having to pay to ride Stetson). Does anybody have any ideas for ways that I can get him to relax and go nicely for me? I m willign to try anything at this point. He is going in a d- ring snaffle with copper rollers anda running martingale (I don't like having the martingale in but his owners want it on because he tosses his head all the time). Please help! Any input is appreciated.

[ 06-27-2006, 11:54 AM: Message edited by: MaskedRider89 ]

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The fact that he is tossing his head and does not want to soften up and go nicely, is very likely an indication that he is sore somewhere. He needs examined by a Vet. and/or a licensed Equine Chiropractor to determine if there are any soundness issues. He is sure trying to tell you something.

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Try equine massage and stretching. Get a book and try it yourself. There are those who really believe in massaging before and after each ride, especially those that vault on horses.

If the horse is limping or has an uneven stride, check with a vet. Maybe he could use his teeth getting floated (sharp teeth call for a pissed off horse!) Check his conformation. Are his angles really straight? That would explain the choppiness. Does he look like a good canadite for navicular disease? Too often you find that problem in Quarter horses. If you're dealing with something more serious,like angles that are straight to the ground or navicular, he may not be the best for dressage competition.

Check to make sure the bit fits right. Slide your finger along the bit in the mouth- is the bit banging teeth? Are there sharp edges poking him? Do the joints of the bit cause sores?

Check the saddle. Does the gullet touch his backbone or withers? Is the saddle blocking his shoulder movement? Is the saddle pad flat under the saddle? Is the girth pinching? Could there be a need for tack change?

See how he will go on the longe with light, low side reins (don't over do the reins, otherwise he could learn to suck back, you know what I mean!)

If longing seems to be successful, don't quit. Use longing before every ride. Teach the owner how to longe with side reins. (It's true, you both need to be on the same schedule, unless it's just you doing the showing on him.)

When you're on his back, try to get him to stretch down at a walk and trot, and later a canter. This is how I attempt the stretching down:

1. use soft elastic hands, use consistant contact with outside rein. Give whenever the horse wants to reach down!

2. with inside hand, working on a 15-20 meter circle, constantly stroke his neck in a circular motion. Each time your hand comes toward you, take a feel of his mouth, maybe asking for a little more softness from his mouth.

3. nudge softly with your inside leg, outside leg slight behind the inside, holding the perimeter of you and your horse. You're looking for a bigger walk or trot.

4. soft is the key. Anything you do, do it softly, for if a horse can feel a fly, he can feel you!

5. use a kind voice. Seriously praise when you get the slightest stretch!

5. Goal would be to get him/her at a trot with neck stretching down and forward, even tempo, and a happy smile on your face. It's an awesome feel.

For getting the horse to stretch: I learned at a clinic to get a tight feel of the reins- walking at first. The clinician got up on the horses to demo. He had his hands by his hips, low and wide. The hores's head was to his chest. The horses gave in and all their heads/necks dropped. By the end of our session, all the horses were going with their heads to the ground and relaxed. I sorta saw John Lyons work a horse the same way with the exact same result. I'm not sure it's correct though. I wouldn't try that method with others watching :-) It definitly looks faulty, and I don't see how it'd work on a choppy Quarter horse.

Oh, yeh, if you're tense from a stressful day, avoid doing anything strenuous on the horse's back. He'll sense your displeasure. Those days make good hacking days or good longing days!

I'm happy to see you riding without paying $. I always encouraged my friends to find a way, for there are SO MANY people out there who have horse, but not the time. As long as you're a decent rider, there's a waiver signed (very important), and your emergency contact info has been collected, you've got yourself a deal!

Keep your head up. Have an educated equestrian look things over with you. Keep up the good work.

[ 06-17-2006, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: Sylves ]

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I want to elaborate on the contact with your outside hand a little better:

Use a FOLLOWING hand. IF the horse's head wants to move, that's fine at this stage of his training. Let your hand go with it. Loosen your elbows for a fluid, elastic feel.

Get your hands on Sally Swift's book "Centered Riding." There's a lot of excellent visuals for improving your ride. For example, loosen all your "hinges" such as your knees, elbows, ankles, toes, neck, pelvis, fingers, writsts, etc. She claims that each part of your body that carries any sort of tension will be felt by the horse, and the different areas of your tension will cause different areas of tension on your horse.

I hope I wrote that clearly!

[ 06-17-2006, 10:55 AM: Message edited by: Sylves ]

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Well, I rode Stetson today. Not with as much sucess as some days but with much, much more than Thursday. By the end of the ride, he was trotting quite happily around bending and flexing and with a long, low frame (not a correct, upright dressage frame but at this point I was very pleased). His saddle fits and the bit isn't pinching him. His teeth aren't in need of floating as that was done not too long go when they got their shots (don't remember the day). Since I am not workng with him on a regular basis, I don't know if his owner would want me to be lunging him, especially with side reins (I've never had to lunge with side reins and I can't afford to have my trainer do extra lessons to teach me at this point). Hopefully I will get to work with him on a bit more of a regular basis during the summer because I will be down almost everyday working there. I will talk to his owner next time I see her and see if we and get into a bit of a routine with him and get him to relax and work through this. I will ask his owner about hte massage for him and if she gives the go ahead, I will pick up a book and start that on him. Thanks for the help guys, I realyl appreciate it! [Huggy]

Oh and he finally let me spray him wth fly spray!! [big Grin] (Usually he's terrified of the bottle if it gets within ten feet of him) I was soo proud of him today!

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It sounds like you'll do a great job with Stetson! Little break through's, like being able to spray the horse without him freaking out is a sign that he is learning to trust and like you. With that type of partnership, only success can follow [Wink] Keep up the good work.

I believe that long and low, but "coming through" (meaning, not all on the forehand) is expected in the dressage Introductory and Training levels. I think that asking a horse to elevate his frame without the proper muscles is impossible to do correctly. As long as he is truly coming through with an even tempo and loosening his back with smooth transistions, which will cause him to also loosen at the pull and naturally put him on the bit/vertical, then you've got it made!!! Keep up with the long and low frame, emphasize even tempo, and do lots of transitions to engage the hind end. Keep him busy with different, yet simple requests. And, do that ONLY if you agree with my philosphy!!!!

I would have to note, though that I've heard of top dressage trainers and riders who disagree with the "long and low" phase of training. Also, I did a lesson with an FEI level dressage trainer who insisted that I crank the head in, even if he appears behind the vertical. As he strenghtens and engages, he'll raise up his frame. I'm not sure I liked this philosphy, and I found another dressage trainer, Heidi Barry and Denise Rath in Virginia.

[ 06-17-2006, 09:37 PM: Message edited by: Sylves ]

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He was not on the forehand today, and the tempo was even. I'm working with him on long and low to get him to relax all the way through his back and swing his back in the trot. I do not agree with cranking his head in. I will not do that to him because at this point, it will only make him worse. If I try to fight him, he will get so bad that he almost begins to buck and I don't want to push him that far. Today I tried sponging my outside rein while holding softly on the inside when he began flipping his head or beginning to feel as though he was goingto fall on the forehand and that really helped. He sat back and carried himself better. I am planning on riding him tomorrow (depending on the heat) and hoefully he will be as good as he was today. I think what he realyl needs is consistancy, which he isn't getting at this point. I think that if I don't ride tomorrow, I will just spend some time with him getting him to trust me with some stuff, maybe some desensitization work. Wish me luck and I will post again tomorro on how it goes [Jump]

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Sounds like you have a project and a half on your hands! I commend you for being patient and sticking it out with such a horse that needs to be turned around. I liked what you are writing. Sounds like you know what's going on and you have a plan for helping him to get better.

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Well, I went don today but didnt ride because it was way too hot. Thank you Sylves, I love the feeling I get when I can help him take baby steps forward. There are numerous times when I have almost given up on him and thrown in the towel but then we get just one good ride and it makes it all worthwhile. I foudn out today that his owner has a saddle fitter coming out tomorrow to look at him and hopefully that will be able to rule out the possibility that his saddle is hurting him. I'm not sure that it could be his saddle because he isn't bad all the time but I guess we'll find out tomorrow. He also let me give him a bath yesterday which he usually fights about. I'm glad that we are at least getting somewhere with him even if its only small steps at this point. Small forward movement is better than no movement right?

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Bear in mind too, that most of the issues related to head tossing, tension, etc., if not physical, can and should also be addressed on the ground. And usually addressed there first.

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Good point Rolling Thunder :-) What kind of things could she do for ground work that would help?

I believe that Maskedrider is doing everything in her power that she can do.

-There's no money to pay her instructor to help her with longing with side reins. I commend Maskrider for using side reins only under professional supervision, since she's never used them before. If used improperly, they can screw up a horse; cause him to suck back. Yuck!

-She is working on the "baby steps" with stable chores- fly spray, baths, etc, which this horse is having to learn to trust her with. Those are all very important.

-She's going to hopefully get to be there for the saddle fitter.

-She's NOT cranking in the nose or using the dreaded see saw method. She's trying out the "long and low" frame, which I completely agree with for the lower level horses and the greenies.

She's doing the best she can with her resources. She's already stated that the owner isn't easily following a plan to work with the horse.

This horse may have simply learned head tossing, etc from her owner. The tension may stem from his conformation or saddle. It sounds like Maskrider is doing a good job dealig with it. I say, keep up the good work.

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The most important thing here is, Maskrider has herself a ride. She's saving money doing it. It sounds like she doesn't get treasures and money handed to her on a silver platter, like I did when I was a kid. She's working with all of her resources. She has a difficult project. Whatever she can do to get this horse to go nicer is a job well done. It doesn't matter, in my opinion, if the horse can sustain a upper level frame or just a lower level frame. Maskrider will learn from this and hopefully she'll get an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to work with some other horses!

Just one thing though, I wish her trainer would help her out without her having to pay for a lesson. I know that my previous trainer was SO giving, she'd help, no prob with the ground work. I could call her on the phone and we'd talk about training for hours.

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More than likely it is a problem with consistancy--who is riding the horse, how what is being asked is being asked, how it all is being asked differently, and it has got to be very, very frustrating for the horse. Horses thrive on consistancy especially in learning situations which dressage training is, so before getting frustrated with the horse you are working with, put yourself in his position.

You are asking him to do something that he obviously doesn't know how to do. Evidently, he has a problem with contact because of the head tossing thing. He's not consistant with his tempo or relaxation, so more than likely the basics aren't there and his main rider isn't going to work on those because she likes to hack. The main rider may or may not be a bit rough with her hands because of the head tossing, we have to guess, but we can be somewhat sure, that he is not working on establishing a steady firm contact, so the work that you do get on your good days is not reinforced after you finish your ride. How confusing for Stetson!!!!!!

You have to look at this horse as not just a green horse, but as a green horse with problems because he not only doesn't know the basics of dressage, but he doesn't have the work followed up on. It is going to be a frustrating situation because you will not see progress that quickly, but that does not mean you will not see progress. You sound like you have the ability to bring change into this horse's life, but you do need to realize it will not happen rapidly because of the situation. It is not always because of the horse being stubborn, but because he is not in the best situtation for learning and it must be pretty confusion for him--or at least it sounds like it could be.

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More than likely it is a problem with consistancy--who is riding the horse, how what is being asked is being asked, how it all is being asked differently, and it has got to be very, very frustrating for the horse. Horses thrive on consistancy especially in learning situations which dressage training is, so before getting frustrated with the horse you are working with, put yourself in his position.

You are asking him to do something that he obviously doesn't know how to do. Evidently, he has a problem with contact because of the head tossing thing. He's not consistant with his tempo or relaxation, so more than likely the basics aren't there and his main rider isn't going to work on those because she likes to hack. The main rider may or may not be a bit rough with her hands because of the head tossing, we have to guess, but we can be somewhat sure, that he is not working on establishing a steady firm contact, so the work that you do get on your good days is not reinforced after you finish your ride. How confusing for Stetson!!!!!!

You have to look at this horse as not just a green horse, but as a green horse with problems because he not only doesn't know the basics of dressage, but he doesn't have the work followed up on. It is going to be a frustrating situation because you will not see progress that quickly, but that does not mean you will not see progress. You sound like you have the ability to bring change into this horse's life, but you do need to realize it will not happen rapidly because of the situation. It is not always because of the horse being stubborn, but because he is not in the best situtation for learning and it must be pretty confusion for him--or at least it sounds like it could be.

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Sylvus, welcome to the board. How about an intro post from you, introducing yourself, horses and experience in dressage.

Lightness and PMJ both made very good points on this topic!

[ 06-20-2006, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: Boocoo ]

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I know that its a problem wth consistancy and tha he would be much better if he was having consistant rides. I find that when I ride him while his owner is away, if I ride him for at least two days in a row, he is soo much better and is much more willing to work with me than spend the entire ride fighting me. I know I should get my coaches help, and I do whe nI can but she is usually out teaching and not on the property when I ride. When I have problems, I talk o her about it and we try to work out possible solutions for the next time I ride. I also keep my coach and Stetsons owner informed of what I have been working on with him so that they can follow up on it. I wasn't able to be at the saddler appointment but i will talk to Stetsons owner about what they say.

RollingThunder, do you have any suggestions for things I can work on with Stetson on the ground to help with his problems? I would really appreciate anything! [big Grin]

[ 06-19-2006, 07:16 PM: Message edited by: MaskedRider89 ]

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PMJ, excellent reply. I agree with your suggestion.

With encouragement from others and a deeper understanding of Stetson's "feelings", Maskrider can avoid the frustration of not getting the results she so much wants.

My background:

-Pony clubbed from D3 to the B level. Tried for the HA, but didn't study up enough on nutrition.

-Leased horses until my C1 level. Met up with trainer through the club, and stuck with her for the remainder. She helped us find the perfect horse, TB (named Fancy Dancer), green, off the track, but with a gentle disposition.

-Started FD with beginner novice horse trials. When began Training level HT, found two other trainers that specialize- Denise Rath for Stadium and Heidi Barry for dressage. Lisa Reid for x-c.

-Won Area II Novice Champion in 1993.

-Not that it matters, but got many first places at Area II Horse trial's such as : MCTA, CDCTA, Dominion Vally, Seneca Valley, Waradoca, (and a couple other's I forgot the names for) at Taining and Novice levels. (BRAGGING RIGHTS, that's all!)

-Geared for Prelim and a one star three day, but had to with draw from event because horse came down with Potomac Horse Fever. It was going around in our horse community at that time.

-Dressage up to the first level test 2.

-Sold horse so that Mom could pay for the college at St. ANdrews Presbyterian College. Rode there and learned the hunter seat (cringe if you will...the typical light hunter seat replaced my deep set from eventing/dressage. I'm working at getting my deep seat back as we speak.)

-SInce I married a dressage enthusiast, I'm back in the saddle with a grin. Never thought I'd be back in the horse buisness, but because of my hubby, I am. We currently have a green broke German Holsteiner that is just showing signs of an EPM relapse...just today. Already video taped the clinical symptoms and showed them to the vet. He say's, "yep, looks like we'll have to put him on the meds again." SO, I guess we won't get to train for the rest of this summer.

That's my story.

In addition, I'm a classroom teacher. I believe in positive reinforcement. You get the best results that way- people, kids, horses, dogs...anything living. That's why I'm encouraging Maskrider.

[ 06-19-2006, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: Sylves ]

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quote:

Originally posted by Sylves:

In addition, I'm a classroom teacher. I believe in positive reinforcement. You get the best results that way- people, kids, horses, dogs...anything living. That's why I'm encouraging Maskrider.

Good to get to know you. I myself have been in education for years. Nothing wrong with positive reinforcement. We all do that here on this board for each other. You will find there are a lot of highly experienced dressage people on this board that are great at encouraging all the rest of us and in a positive, upbeat, helpful way. This is one of the nicest boards you will find in Cyber Land's message board world! [big Grin] Welcome!

[ 06-20-2006, 04:37 PM: Message edited by: Boocoo ]

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Maskedrider, I have a saddle fitting appt. for my horse on Wed. If I am using a saddle that is uncomfortable to him, he will go ballistic. Put the right saddle on him and he works like a dream. After sending back several saddles lately, I am finally biting the bullet and taking him for a fitting for a new Albion. Best of luck with your situation! [big Grin]

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Ok, so I rode Stetson yesterday (not he first time since I had made this thread but oh well) and it was supposed to be a nice relaxing ride. Oh that didn't last long. He was terrible! Refused to bend at all to the right, and did everything possible to pop the shoulder out to the left. He wouldn't bring his head down. We ended up ending the ride with an...acceptable...canter in each direction. I find that he is really reallybad the day after he goes out on a hack becasue when he's on the hack he never has to do any real work. I feel bad getting into the fights with him but I don't want to let him get away with being bad.

An update in the saddle issue though, the fitter from Schleese came out to check the saddle and it wa determined that Stetson has a very wide back and that the saddle isn't quite wide enough for hi to be able to work comfortably in. So his owner has purchased a new saddle and it is being made now. We should hopefully have it soon...

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HI Masked Rider-

i give you credit- you are sticking with him.

I have a few thoughts for you. I'm currently worki ng to undo problems with 3 green horses- 2 have no training at all- they were bullied into their gaits. The 3rd horse was abused - he's a 3 yr old , who at 18months old had a 300lb man ride him for 20 miles to a meet- he collasped when the disgusting humaniod got off him. He was bought on the spot to save him and he's been turned out since then to grow. So , he's gotten no real education. All 3 of these horses are hungry for human partners, but I believe they need slow handling. I believe Sally Swift's Centered Riding book was mentioned- this could help you.I use her centered riding techniques in my classes and they help both horse and rider.

We are also doing a " from the ground up" on all 3 of these horses just to reinforce good manners and softness in their movements. It seems like he needs a consistent format- you already know enough to stop on a high note- when he has successfully done one of his movements.

It almost seems like he needs to "tune in" to your signals first and just ride correctly before going into the dressage area.

I wish you a lot of luck with him- patience and time are your allies-don't let anyone rush you.

Happy riding.

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quote:

Originally posted by Fran:

HI Masked Rider-

It almost seems like he needs to "tune in" to your signals first and just ride correctly before going into the dressage area.

I wish you a lot of luck with him- patience and time are your allies-don't let anyone rush you.

Happy riding.

I ditto that!

I would say, "just ride" the WHOLE time. Don't worry about Stenton's frame until he's soft throughout his body; this may feel like it'll never happen, but the "dressage" stuff will never happen until he's soft and "in tune" with you...

Don't let yourself get frustrated if he doesn't go on the bit...he can't do it properly until he's soft. Don't let yourself get frustrated if he's not soft. Getting frustrated will only carry tension from you to him. Remember that your saddle is a bit narrow for his back, and that's uncomfortable for him.

I have a hard time understanding how a hack can hurt Steton's training. It's like saying that recess hurts a child's education. As long the rider doesn't let him get away with "naughty" stuff and encourages relaxation, it can only be good. The same goes for a teacher and a class; as long as the teacher directs behavior and social development assertively and positively during recess, than recess reinforces growth and maturity in kids.

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I find that the hacking sets him back because he is allowed to just gallop off and his owner lets him. Then when I get on him the next day, he thinks that taking off is allowed. That's what I fnd that sets us back so much.

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Just an idea that may or may not fit- I wonder if his "taking off", both with you AND his hacking owner might be a manifestation of his confusion? My little rescue-job arab has a WELL developed flight response which has manifested itself in outright bolting on the trail- or a tendency to "hurry" her walk when introducing spirals, forehand & hauch turns, etc in the arena when I first began riding her. As pointed out by other posters, horses DO appreciate consistency, & this guy is faced with 2 riders with very different riding styles, not to mention different venues.Perhaps he is responding to the differences in a very horsey way- "I'm outta here!"

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I think you'll find the new saddle will help a lot. Imagine having to do ballet in shoes two sizes to small. Anyone would resent it. As far as 'hacking out'. It should be a confidence, relaxation builder, but every time someone is on a horse they are training him whether they are concious of it or not and unfortunately, the owner is gonna 'undo' any ground you gain during your rides unless she improves her riding/training. Don't let it frustrate you and use this opportunity as a learning experience. JMHO

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Thank you, everybody for the encouragement. It's just hard whe nI'm riding him one day one week then not at all fortwo weeks then for four days in a row a week after that. Since summer is here now and I don't have to go to school anymore maybe I will be able to get into a routine with him and since my other mount is currently for sale, I might be able to get soem lessons in with my trainer on Stetson. Hopefully...

On a much better note though, ground work is coming along very nicely. I've been woking constantly with Stetson on getting used to the fly spray bottle and he is mucho better with it now. He will let me rub his entire body (except his head) with the bottle and spray him all over. I'm very please with progress in that respect. Next thing to work on is clippers and plastic bags. He sure has come a long way in the last couple weeks from the horse who wouldn't let me within ten feet of him with a fly spray bottle.

I also rode him again last night. It was a decent ride. Nothing spectacular but it was much better than it has been. There were a few tense moments but I made sure to take a deep breath and just squeeze gently on my outside rein when he felt like he was going to take off. He would take about two steps in the canter then calmly coem back to a trot. I tried not to concern myself with his headset and frame and everything and worked more on getting a nice, even, relaxed tempo and things somewhat fell into place. He was still not accepting of contact and would flick his head to try to take my reins away but then he would be put onto a small circle and do transitions until he understood that flicking the head resulted in extra work. Overall, though, I was rather pleased with him.

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