(“She used to grind hoof pairings at the scrapple plant.”)
Today: two pictures for your consideration: The first is a horse moving in a First Level outline. He would get a pretty decent score—not a great one because if you saw him live, he would have to have more energy, more pushing power. And you would discover that although he is pleasantly on contact, the connection is a passive one, not a pliable, permeable one that would let rebalancing half halts go through.
If this image were depicting his arrival at the beginning of First Level, I would not have much to complain about. However, this rider is impatient to get to Second Level and wonders why it’s not happening. Trying to move this horse up with this frame and balance, she would be confronted by what my French pedicurist refers to as la Principe de Pierre. (Prior to her new job at the salon, she used to grind hoof pairings at the scrapple plant, so she knows first hand of which she speaks.) If success at an elementary level invites self-promotion beyond your skill set, you risk guaranteeing inevitable failure. Another way to say that is how can you expect to climb the ladder of success only by repeating what worked on the bottom rung?
The second picture (taken later the same session) shows where this rider needs to be going to accomplish her goals. Please don’t think all we’ve done is wrestle his neck into a higher position! Getting here takes more input from the rider who must demand a greater degree of attention to the aids and activity in the hindquarters. It’s work! The change in his outline is a result of all this. Only by taking the measure of these greater requirements and challenging your horse (and yourself) to figure them out will you deserve to move up.