Ultimate goal…use under carriage. Correctness using right set of muscles to carry himself and rider as well as NOT using the incorrect muscles (top line). This affects the physical as well as mental well being of the horse.
TURNING OFF THE TOP LINE: Disengaging the hindquarters...you are disengaging the horse's THOUGHT!
Bringing the front end around is like bringing OUR thought to him…engage his mind.
Getting a change in the HQ represents getting a change in the horse's thoughts. No change in his thoughts is manifested by a brace…sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle. Don't mistake lightness for softness.
'Hopping' the front end or dragging the front end - evasion of using the undercarriage.
When you get the hind end well, pretty soon you won't have to disengage …all you will have to do is lead the front end thru because he will have connected the picking up of the rein to his hind end and will have prepared himself (rocked back some).
When first 'getting to the HQ', why not use inside leg along with the rein to 'help' the horse understand? Because otherwise, you won't really KNOW the horse has made the connection…rein to HQ. When this is solid, use leg to get impulsion, collection ,etc.
Beware of bringing inside hand too much over centerline (withers)…this will cause the shoulder to 'leak' out.
First mini step of 'collection'…disengage/lead thru, disengage/lead thru, etc. then on one of the lead thrus, gently pick up the outside rein a bit, he will automatically rock back , lift withers, break poll.
If a horse still doesn't raise at the withers, but breaks at poll, they have learned to evade, so disengage HQ and keep a nice bend in a circle (1/4, 1/2, or full). For him to have a correct bend on that circle, then he must physically be rounding up to some degree. When he gets a correct bend, he cannot be upside down~ so you have at least got the top line turned off.
Forward without control of HQ is just forward (a runaway, even if walking)…this is NOT impulsion.
HEAVY/RESISTANT/BRACE/LACKING SOFTNESS: This is when he is using muscles that are inappropriate for what we are asking him to do. You pick up the rein and HQ don't move…there is something in the way i.e. his thoughts, thus his muscles.
NOTE ON GROUND WORK: When asking horse to back up, if head continues to go up, then gently take hold at knot, help him bring his head down and then free up the feet. Then ask again with the rope, if head continues to go up, you continue to step in and support at knot.
WHICH IS THE CASE? Most horses seem to prefer bending one direction more than another. Are they truly softer and lighter on that side or is it because they don't want to step under themselves on that side?
And the opposite can be true…if there is a side that they seem to step under themselves well, is that really what is happening? Or could it be that they don't like to break at the poll thru the neck and bend on that side?
Little things that lead to big things and eventually mean a lot!