Considering the temperature dropped over 35 degrees in less than 12 hours, with a 17 degree windchill (what?!?) and Charlie was in all day yesterday because it was downpouring, I didn't think it would be wise to hop on and go without at least a little lunge session so instead I opted to put him in the faux-ssoa rig. I shouldn't have worried; he was perfectly calm (which is why I felt safe attempting Part II of my ride, as you'll see below).
I rigged it up using a surcingle that we were using on the draft horses, just to see if it would work. Guess what, while it wasn't a perfect fit but it definitely wasn't huge! I had Charlie do a nice trot in both directions, waiting until he relaxed and stretched down before changing directions. He has a hard time with the idea of "forward" when he's wearing the faux-ssoa.
|That's a draft-sized surcingle....and a Kate Taylor custom saddle pad :)|
By riding him with my hands lightly down by my knees I could help encourage the rounding by providing constant light pressure, but still be able so adjust pressure as needed for balance. I let the hind and side sections of the rig remind him to tuck his butt underneath him as well as not bulge out with his shoulders. It actually worked really well!
Non-traditional and it's not something I'll do all the time (it is pretty limited in what it can accomplish and I think I can do a lot more with draw reins), but I think it helped make the connection for him. I just let him have his head and pushed him forward as he tried to run out and get hollow and then when I added a little pressure and he responded by leaning forward and stretching into it, I released into a light continuing contact. Once he got it we had a lovely round slow trot around the ring.
(Excuse me while I relish in one small moment here: My TB let me climb on him bareback with all that rigging and trot around with nothing but a halter. Can you say proud!) :)