Today I went over to my sister's to ride. She's not an instructor or anything, but she knows more than I do and she loves to train horses. So I asked her to help me with getting him to give to the bit better and side-passing. He was so good! It didn't take long before all I had to do was close my fingers on the reins to get him to give, and he was flexing laterally really nicely as well. I was having trouble feeling him give, but then found I was looking for too small a try. It turned out to be pretty obvious when he gave, and when I released at the right time consistently he immediately improved. This was all at the standstill. We both tried it at the walk, and he's not ready for that yet. I'd really like to start getting him collected though, to strengthen his LONG back.
The side-passing wasn't as miraculous an improvement, but I did find out that I wasn't giving the wrong cues. It was more like I wasn't setting him up in the easiest way for him to understand what I was asking. She wants me to work against a fence to help show him that I'm not looking for forward movement. I've done that before with other horses and it helped a lot, but I kept thinking I didn't have a solid fence to work near, just electric. Completely forgot that we just finished up my round pen and I can use it! Duh. He really did improve, but he wasn't perfect at it by any means by the time we were done. I could get a step or two correctly, which is GREAT, but sometimes I'd just get the front end moving over and the hind end lagging behind. So now I have my assignment for tomorrow!
Actually the round pen isn't completely done, I still need to hang the gate. I think I'll do that in the morning so we can practice opening and closing it from the saddle too. Funny, he side-passes up to a gate better than he does out in the open... Or maybe that was just a fluke.
I have to go to the chiropractor tomorrow, but I think I can sandwich in some riding time somehow.