We’re ready to start with work on the ground. The first thing we tackled was to familiarize Esta to the pressure she would feel on the bit thru the reins. Only one hand works at a time, and the pressure, which amounts to a soft jiggle, from that hand is lifted toward her ear. First left, then back to center, then right, with at least a couple of seconds pausing at each position. We used just enough ‘jiggle’ to get a response, then we quit the pressure. When we first attempted this she responded with a nice bend of the neck and head, but then swung her body around too. We didn’t care at that point, and after a few days she didn’t move her body any more.
We do not want to over-flex. A small bend is fine. Esta caught on pretty quickly and we moved on to the ‘pressure, stretch, release’ move.
Here we stand one one side of Esta’s head and bring the far rein over the top of her head behind her ears. With a little steady pressure on both the rein (down) and the ring (up) simultaneously, Esta lowered her head and we immediately released the pressure. This is what we will eventually use to get her to stretch her neck (and back) out when being ridden, which is important because we want her to work through the entire length of her spine.
Equipment note: we are not using the preferred full-cheek snaffle because we don’t have one for Esta…it’s on our list of things to buy. We also need smooth reins, rather than laced reins pictured, because it’s easier for smooth reins to slide through the fingers.