Some key points we gained at our most recent Jeff Moore clinic:
"Driving more" or "energy from behind" etc is NOT helpful for self carriage. Rather, we must get the horse's chest to come up (also the horse's thoracic sling muscles) and once the horse's thorax is up the hindlegs are no longer blocked. So you don't have to "drive the hindlegs under" they just have free access to underneath.
But in order to get the chest up we have to go through the mouth. How? Here's the recipe, called a "proto half halt." (Proto means the version before the final version.) 1)Am I allowed to bring my hands to my belly (with one thumb nail on top the other)? 2)Can I loosen the reins 'til there's a loop?
What can happen is about six inches from your belly button there is a wall of blockage from the horse that they brace against. So the rider has to let go immediately and do it again; maybe stronger maybe less strong until the rider can go from the regular riding hands position and smoothly get to where the rider can touch their gut. Eventually you get to the point where you can touch your gut smoothly and let go, about every third or fourth stride. A rule: when you are taking the rein never use your leg. Using your leg (or whip) is done only in the let go.
When you touch your gut, no matter how badly it fails, you must immediately let go-- that is your pact with the horse and your guarantee to the horse.
To improve shoulder in: make the neck straight, raise the horse's chest with withers centered in front of your pubic bone as in "UP and THERE." "UP and THERE." Pick the horse's chest up and plunck it where you want it. But always let go instantly (whether it worked or not).
For half pass: get the bend and the parallel in the take hold (raise up) moment but let go at once whether it worked or not. Each time you lift him up place his withers in the middle of your pubic bone.
The trick for canter half pass: to not do the proto half halt every stride but rather every other stride. LET GO especially when schooling (reserve "managing" for faking it in front of a judge at a horse show). Test the "touch-your-guts-let-go every other stride in canter. If the half pass gets laborious and slow, let go and kick him. Then, stand him up, then let go; then stand him up, then let go. Make a distinction between the proto half halt and then lift and release.
A rule for transitions "down" (they are really transitions up): you must have the reins loose the moment all four feet stop moving. "UP-and-release; UP-and-release; UP-and-release" until the horse does the stop during the release, NOT during the grab.
An underlying principle should be: "Raise-able chest, release-able for self carriage."
For canter pirouette: raise the chest so you can let go. The turn happens in the let go moment. So hands to your belly button, pick up your belly button, then instantly let go.
Here are the first couple minutes from our first of five lessons at the Jeff Moore clinic this weekend at beautiful Belle Terre Farm:
At the end of the clip, note Jeff's dismay at lack of enthusiasm on my part after Rijkens did a very good canter pirouette.
Jeff: "Nice huh!"
Me: weakly "It's better."
Jeff: mocking falsetto voice "Better."
Me: exclaiming "Better; Wonderful; I LOVE it!"
Jeff: "When I was at your stage, if I could have changed a pirouette that much I'd have had an orgasm."