(“. . . filling in the gaps . . .”)
A few nights ago I was eating my linguine with white clam sauce and mulling over the day’s lessons. The horse – a successful St. George competitor with a “coming along” piaffe but no passage. His half steps were pretty good–- rhythmical and sustainable and fairly on the spot. His collected trot was springy. Normally his medium had amplitude and length. The transition from half steps towards medium didn’t work at all. He would tend to lean on the bit, brace, and drag himself (and the rider) forward.
Those were the symptoms. So what’s the cause? And what’s the solution? Remember that all the trot work should exist on a continuum. The specific trots you show to the judge — from extension all the way back to piaffe —are points along the continuum, but you should be able to produce a two beat gait anywhere along that spectrum in between those points.
So the next day we began teaching the horse “five eighth steps” and then 11/16th steps, and so on. In other words filling in the gaps. And every time he wanted to go against the hand and stiffen, we used the shoulder in during the movement to re-supple him. It is a work in progress but a logical solution to the problem.
Pretty good clam sauce too.