Just had an absolutely amazing flat lesson with C on Poppers. I had been having trouble on my own "unlocking" him and getting him to free up his back, and instead had him bracing against my hands and helplessly trying to soften his jaw without remembering his hind end. After being quite frustrated with myself yesterday, I feel like we had a breakthrough today and now I can't stop smiling! C wanted me to get him really deep while riding him straight and forward (which means keeping his hindquarters from shifting right, and keeping his neck straight and not too short). It took me about 20 minutes of trotting (and several transitions back to walk) before I felt him unlock and soften. It's really like night and day....he suddenly transforms into this amazingly light and balanced pony that I could literally ride all.day.long. We discovered that the right rein is the key right now to getting that extra level of deepness to bring his back up. He responds to the right rein more than the left in both directions...so tracking right we have him bent almost in a shoulder-fore with his hindquarters straight or even slightly to the left if necessary, and tracking left he is bent ever so slightly to the outside. He comes down in his neck, the rhythm staying bouncy and forward but not quick and not "up-and-down" which means he's stuck...so he's traveling beautifully underneath me and is straight and light in my hands. It's kinda like the most magical ride ever. I LOVE THIS HORSE.
And I love taking care of him. He gets his little fly boots during the day and lots of fly spray to keep him from stomping, and before we ride a layer of Tuff Stuff on his feet to seal them. Then after we ride, he gets a good bath (today was Vetrolin/Bigeoil mixed because he worked so hard for me) and then goes on the drying rack for a few minutes, when he'll get a layer of Kopertox to get the moisture from the bath out of his feet. Then his tail gets conditioned and he gets his fly boots back on and gets to chill in his stall with his hay. He seems happy here and although I know he misses his Mom, she comes to visit him all the time :D And he's certainly not lacking in cookies!
I'm also trying not to complain about the heat, but wow is it hot. A little rain wouldn't be a bad thing!