I was looking forward to my lesson with Jon with some trepidation as I had not been able to work paddy in canter without it all falling apart!! Jon hot on him first and of course paddy did not buck at all!! I then got and and we did quite a lot of work getting a more active working trot, using poles to help him activate his back end and lift his back. This felt good and I found it very helpful to feel what his trot should be like - I am someone who needs to feel how things should be, rather than be told!!
We then moved up into canter and yes he bucked a couple of times, but then he settled and continued to work really well. Jon had to remind me to sit up, support him with my hands and ensure I keep my legs wrapped round him & it seemed to work!! Then went on to do circles at either end with simple changes through trot at x and paddy did them really well, and even his downwards transitions weren't too bad!!
By the end of the lesson I felt more confident and hopeful that we might get somewhere after all!!
This process has helped me come to a few conclusions as follows:
1. I am too nice with paddy - I have been so worried about asking too much from him that I have allowed him to pootle round looking pretty, but he has not been working through his back, so I need to ask more of him in order to develop his muscle and now I know what it should feel like, I will be asking for more activity from him.
2. All this is new to paddy and yes it is hard work for him, but if I don't ask for more he will never get strong enough to do more advanced work.
3. I need to do all I can to build up his topline. His neck has muscled up amazingly well, and although he has put on some muscle from his withers to his tail, it is no where near enough and therefore he is just not sting enough yet. I have started strapping him to help muscle development, and I am going to do more pole work to help this, plus carrot stretches etc. I have also restarted using a band round his bottom when schooling which creates resistance and makes him work harder when he's being ridden.
4. I need more regular lessons as having them monthly is not enough. If anything goes wrong in between I am liable to let things drift which means that they get worse and I end up losing confidence, so plan to try weekly or fortnightly lessons until we are more established.
5. It will take time and there will be ups and downs but I need to remain hopeful that we will get there in the end. I need to persevere rather than give up.
6. I need to set goals to work towards, particularly in the form of competitions as this helps focus me and helps prevent me from allowing things to drift along.
Here's a couple of videos of Jon riding paddy yesterday: