Taran's got great basics. FuzzyPony has done a wonderful job with him, and the correct training really shows. However, he tends to be stiff in his jaw to the left, fall out on his right shoulder, and overbend to the right. The saddle can also feel like it's falling constantly to the right. What it comes down to is that he's stronger on one side than the other (the saddle fitter helped FuzzyPony figure this out), and helping him to be even in his body is very, very difficult.
A lot of the work when I ride him is to get him to bend in his jaw, poll, and neck - otherwise, he'll break at the shoulder and tip his head to the inside, but his neck is still straight (it's hard to describe but I wish I had a picture from the saddle). But I also have to make sure I don't lose the right shoulder, all the while keeping the impulsion from behind. He's also not strong in his topline and tends to fall on the forehand, so there are a lot of pieces to keep track of as we're riding.
His walk work is really coming along - this is the third time I've ridden him in as many weeks, and he's much more responsive to half-halts and requests for bend. He's also taking the reins from my hands (nicely, while keeping the contact) when I ask him to stretch down and out, a sure sign that he's coming over his back. However, tonight we were really having issues at the trot - I simply could not get him to stay forward while bending laterally, even a fraction. I got frustrated and didn't ride very well, neglecting my body position more than I should have. Finally, I ended up on a 20 m circle where I was practically asking for shoulder in on the circle, and you know what? That worked! It's not the greatest trot work ever, but what I like about this video is that a) it's a HUGE improvement on when we started the ride, and b) you can really see that when his head goes up, he loses impulsion behind - the steps taken by the hind legs get smaller and shorter. Conversely, when I leg him on and soften my hand, he engages more and comes through his topline, and his head relaxes into "frame". Notice that when I use too much inside rein, I force him to lose the connection and everything falls apart.
Softer with my hands and more forward means even more hind end engagement and coming through the topline. You can see the difference between this picture and the one above. I need to let the energy flow even more, though, because now he's behind the vertical.
This video really illustrates how Taran's hind end disengages when I ask for too much bend and lose the impulsion. Notice the short steps he takes when his back is hollow and his head is up? Contrast that to the big, swinging steps he takes when I ride more softly and ask him to come forward. There are moments of brilliance, well interspersed with moments I'm embarrassed about. Oh well, it will come in time.
The video also illustrates a bad habit that I have of riding with my hands too far apart and being too active with my inside rein. And breaking my wrist. Well, without eyes on the ground constantly reminding me what to do (or not to do!), video is a great way to self-critique. Something to think about during my next ride!