It has been months since I consistently rode with a martingale. Part of me believes I shouldn't have to, but I think that part of me could be wrong.
One of the things Ashke has taken to doing at the trot is pop his head up and kind of pop-bounce on his front feet. It's a similar feeling to him wanting to canter, but it's kind of more disjointed than that. He still braces against the bit. He still juts out his chin and throws his head up when we trot. He gets stiff and rigid and rough when he does that, and short of forcing him to lower his head by bracing my hands and the reins against the front of the saddle, I can't get him to soften and get his head down. I'm tired of fighting him constantly for half a dozen decent steps at the trot. I don't want my hands to be that hard on his mouth. I don't want him braced that strongly against me.
So, after a lot of thought, I put the running martingale on him last night.
It made a world of difference. He was great. He was magnificent. He was beyond words.
His head came down. He stopped bouncing against my hands. We stopped fighting. His trot was smooth and forward. He did every thing I have been asking him to do, including a nice canter to the left where we went around a couple of times. I had very little pressure on the bit to get him to respond. He turned on the forehand and on the haunches. We sidepassed and worked on the diagonal. He stopped and backed much better than before. I rode most of the night with the reins in one hand. If we are going to do working equitation, that is the way we need to ride.
Hard to think about riding without it, going forward, when I got such great results last night.
He seems so much more comfortable and responsive. And I'm going with what makes him feel better.