Lack of suppleness and looseness is what I am currently having problem with while riding Hamlet. Being my usual detective self I am now trying to learn as much as I can about achieving this elusive losgelassenheit with a horse that tenses up when I ride him.
Most of my half-halts stops somewhere at the base of his neck most of the time (although I had a few very nice moments today when he seemed more through and accepting). I don't feel him coming up with his back and loosening; when he does come round it feels more like neck only roundness rather than arching of the back underneath the saddle. Since I have experienced how it really feels to ride a horse that is 'through' I became dissatisfied with this whole 'arched neck only' situation.
What I do now is I am trying to achieve true long and low outline with Hamlet where he stretches down and towards the contact. We had about 5 minutes today when he actually chewed the rein out of my hand and it felt fantastic! If only I could ride like that for 30 minutes not just 5!
I am hoping Dressage Mum and Echo might be reading this and won't mind offering some exercises and advice? :)
Now, time to read this article: Functional Anatomy of the horse's back where a top German veterinarian discusses why the horse must be stretched forward and down to be able to raise his back. The piece seems pretty comprehensive yet concise and very interesting so I am going to spend a while on studying it tonight. There is something in the fact that some people, me included, learn better when they really understand why and what for something is done.