One of Saga's favorite evasions is to tilt his head and twist his nose to the right, while locking his poll and jaw. I've tried bending him left and right, but I'm pulling against a brick wall, and I'm just not that strong. I also ask for forward, but it takes him a while to respond. Usually we go on for a few steps and he starts listening to my leg again and softens, but it's not pretty and it takes far too long for my taste.
I was showing him to a friend who will be riding him occasionally while I'm on vacation in June, and was explaining this to her. As he was in the midst of the tilt-and-pull game, I just decided to let go. I pushed both hands forward about two inches, dropping all contact... and you know what, he unlocked, softened right up, and went back to work.
You would think that, seeing as one of the first things I learned in riding was to let go instead of pulling, I would have figured this out before now. Just remember to let go!
My friend had a nice ride on Saga after I'd warmed him up. We warmed up very forward and up, and I just kept light contact. When asked to go together, he was just lovely. I tried to get some pictures but it was too dark by the time I got my camera out. His canter transitions are still miserable (he just runs into them), but those will come. He's also much less resistant to my leg and laterals, although we didn't do much of those tonight, and I think that's due in huge part to his back being more comfortable. That ThinLine pad is awesome, and the stretches that we're doing really seem to help.
My friend really liked him and said he was "lovely". What a wonderful compliment! It is such a relief knowing that someone with such a nice seat and hands will be riding him and looking after him while I'm gone, and I hope she has fun with him.
In other news, the new saddle fitter is due out on Monday, and has several saddles for me to try if she can't get my existing Wintec AP to fit. She saw the pictures of Saga's back and said that he shouldn't be too hard to fit (which is good!!!). We're set to go XC schooling on Saturday, leaving Friday night. Tomorrow is pack the trailer and the camper night, and one more ride before we leave.
The horses got to go out again today, finally, for the first time in five days. They were all so happy!