Lex clearly loves the camera and always behaves well when she's being taped. Diva. She was a total saint that day and didn't do any of her naughty head-flipping or ear-pinning. The standing martingale has been a good addition to the tack, I think. Anyway, you can see her being unsteady in the contact but not misbehaving, and then towards the latter part of the video, she starts stretching a lot.
Lauren asked me about stretching exercises, but here's the thing: she doesn't always stretch on command. Right now, she stretches when she's relaxed, and I tend to let her. Chris says it means she's using herself correctly and feeling comfortable and that we should encourage it at this stage. I get her to the point of being relaxed enough to stretch by staying chill while she throws a fit and just focusing on rhythm. I will count "one two one two" in my head like a beginner learning to post, and post to the rhythm I want. She'll line up with me before too long. Then, while holding that rhythm, I'll do exercises like serpentines or big figure 8s. I like serpentines because they have both turns and straight lines. Figure 8s are good for changing balance. Sometimes she gets stuck and throws her head up and gets behind my leg. I just close my leg, push my hands forward, and give her somewhere to go and a reason to get there. She tends to respond well to that and get with the program. After that, I find, is when stretching happens. Lex wants to be a relaxed horse, but she also wants to have things her way. When I can convince her that the best way for her to have things her way is to just go forward off my leg and listen to my seat - that this will make her most comfortable - she chills out. It helps that at this point I trust her not to be genuinely explosive (though we'll see what the winter in Ohio brings). While she's stretching, I'll do circles and direction changes. Sometimes her head comes back up because she needs to readjust her balance, but if I keep that rhythm in place, she will let out a big breath and stretch some more.
Because she's just going to the left here, she doesn't look as stiff and off-balance as she sometimes does to the right. I also think she's making genuine improvement in her balance and willingness to flex. But the biggest change I've noticed lately is to her rhythm. It's a work in progress still, but you can see in this video that she isn't rushing at all, even when I'm riding on the buckle.
Finally, not to make any lame excuses, but I was having pretty bad vertigo the day we did this and I don't think my reaction times were that fast. Fortunately, she was making it easy on me.
Thoughts and feedback are welcome. Sorry I had my phone in my pocket and my boots were dusty. I was just spacing out on my own turnout.