Okay with any other horse what I got from my ride today would be really minor, but with Comrade is was a major break through.
Comrade has, since probably the day he was born, traveled with his head up. He has learned to soften and round, but to stretch is still a goal. I have gotten some stretch down at the trot and very few at the walk. All the tricks I have used with other horses don't work with him. Even Rosemary as green as she is stretches down.
So last night after a quick ride between rain showers, I figured out that Comrade really needed to get out of the arena. Today I started in the arena just walking. Then I asked him to collect his walk on the short ends and open on the long sides or diagonals. He responded exactly how I wanted and more. During the open walks he actually started to stretch down. He did this almost every time I asked him to open his walk. Plus his walk was really active during both parts.
At this point I rewarded him and took him out on trail. After all the rain we have had, we only did more walk work. Hills, turn on the forehands, turn on the haunches and collecting and opening the walk. All of this made him wait for my instructions. He has a tendency to think he knows what is happening and get ahead of me. If I am going to event him, he needs to work with me and listen to me so today was a valuable lesson.
And the icing on the cake... he rooted the reins.
My other horses would get a kick for rooting, but Comrade got a "Good boy." The offer to reach down, even done rudely, was welcome.
I bragged to his owner as I untacked. Then I laughed.
The only sweaty part on him was right by his ears. I guess listening to me really gave him an ear work out :)