In an effort to encourage a certain someone to carry his weight with his haunches, we were working over raised trot poles. My hands were giving me trouble, floating down to discourage him from bracing and only succeeding in blocking his shoulders. Trainer A was ready to throw things at us. Well, me, but I'm sure Theo would have had some opinions. But at the end of the lesson, after my hands were successfully chastised, we swapped to walk/canter transitions to check our work.
I immediately started prepping for the transition and Theo immediately started prepping because I was prepping and we managed to turn ourselves into a pair of pretzels within a couple of steps. Which made Trainer A just stare at us for a long moment. Because really, its a walk/canter transition. What the hell?
'No prep with that horse! He's too into you!'
If my breathing changes, Theo changes. I shift my weight, Theo shifts. I speak, his ears flick. It's what we strive for, but sometimes, I need to be whacked with the 2x4 to see just how far we've come. I don't need to prep for several steps to make sure he's listening. He's always listening. He might tell me to bugger off, but that's not because I surprised him. It's because he's Theo. Our instructions were to walk like nothing was going on, over-emphasize the fact that we're just walking, and carefully take a feel of the inside hind. Don't let him know why! And then ask as his hind foot hits.
Lo and behold, it worked beautifully. Instead of our usual first stride or two being short and a bit off balance, he stepped straight from walk into canter. In both directions, which is a score since the right lead is usually stickier. But that is something interesting to think about. Theo is so into me that I don't need to consciously prep. If I do, it's going to work against me as we both get tense and twist ourselves up.
His true nature emerges
It's going to take some practice to ride the horse I have today. Fortunately I've ridden some very sensitive horses so I know the drill, but it's going to take some time to learn how to ride a horse that's both incredibly lazy and incredibly sensitive. I know damn well he knows I want him to keep cantering, he's just tired and doesn't want to do it anymore. So I may have to boot him along, but if my inside hand drifts down, I'm going to have a mess. And gods help me if I lean.
Having a smart, sensitive horse should be considered a curse, reserved for riders you really don't like.