That was my equine theme this past week.  

Armani’s groundwork is coming along pretty well, although progress is definitely not linear. At this point, I believe a lot of his behaviour is learned. I don’t think even he knows why he’s doing it sometimes. I’m serious! 
I also picked up a rope halter. I realized that he was just too comfortable setting back in the webbing halter.  I was willing to wait him out but the advantage of getting a faster response to my ask is that I can reward the correct response to my ask that much earlier, thereby drawing the connection faster for the horse. So far so good.

I’m now back to a hybrid technique that is partly what I had taught him to respond well to initially (dressage whip in my left hand to wave behind to get forward) and partly move forward to get release from pressure. The reason I brought the whip back in was because to solely rely on pressure/release with the halter ended up with me ahead of him further than I’d like. When I go to approach him in those situations, he backs away, which just perpetuates the problem.
Last lesson.
I had my coach get on Armani for the first part of our lesson. I like to have her get on for 10 minutes or so each week so she can feel what's going on, correct anything that I haven't developed the strength/skill for, and otherwise make sure his training is progressing well. Then she can use what she feels to better instruct me. It's worked pretty well. 

A few times we've skipped weeks so only I ride and it resulted in a longer session with her next time, so I decided not to skip weeks. But then last week she was running pretty late and I was tacked up and in the arena, so I decided to get on and warm up. He felt fantastic, I told Alex he was "all melty in all the right ways" (That might not have been a wise move on my part, lol. What men must think of us horse-girls sometimes) so once my coach got there I stayed on and rode the whole lesson. 

 So this weekend I had her get on right from the start. I typically find things start to unravel the further from her schooling we get. I wish that weren't the case but I'm an amateur with a capital A and feel no shame in saying so. I thought that since he had only 2 rides the week before due to my french final exam (yee-haw!) and other factors that I wouldn't have messed up whatever magic she conjures as much as usual.

In fact, she rode for at least 40 minutes before handing him back to me. Time well spent, he was all buttery again. At one point while I was riding, she was describing something related to riding Mani and says, "he's a very technical ride, I have to use all my technique to get the best out of him. But he's also a little bit cowboy." 

Don't take offense, even though I can clearly see how it could be offensive, it's actually complimentary. What she means is that he's technical, but also needs a good ol' boot sometimes. In her perception, sometimes cowboys get things done without over-thinking/feeling, etc. Just get er done.