Week of June 9, we worked on a bit of canter, both directions, and some coming & going trot. Chewie was always agreeable, and, though one day, a bit "lookie see", due to a thunderstorm waking up the neighborhood (but refusing to bring rain to my house), he never spooked with me aboard.
Romeo, a whole nother story. That boy .... GRR is the only way to describe it. My plans for Romeo right now include not putting him anywhere near the hunter saddle, tacking up Western, Tom Thumb bit, and walking about the neighborhood. He's okay at the walk, okay at trot on the flat, even agreeable to lateral work at walk & trot. But set a trot rail or a series of ground poles in front of him, and it's off to the races. Calm to the poles, but speed demon during & from. There seems to be nothing I can do to slow him down. My only last option is to wrangle out my Kimberwick, and force that boy to slow it down. Pull a little Downunder Horsemanship on him, let him commit to the mistake of chasing, then shut 'im down right after the poles. There is absolutely no reason he should chase during & from poles, yet he's doing it. Sour on the work is all I can guess.
Chewie's lesson Sunday was, well, magical. Tacked up Western (reason following in another humorous posting), Tom Thumb bit (chain as loose as it'd go & still have effect if absolutely needed). We accomplished all of the lesson on a loose rein, which was good for Robin to see, and easy for me, since I didn't need to focus on his "face". Chewie, at one point in the working trot, had his little head & neck nice and low, and I couldn't help but giggle at him. He was so absolutely pleased with himself. We also accomplished a new high, six canter transitions. Three left, three right. The left canters were a bit longer, but one right canter was nearly 3/4 a round pen circle - another new high. I was secure in the saddle, and actually able to improve some posture & balance. So many lessons in canter have been, "Well, okay, now that it's over, let's talk about it and try again." In this lesson, there were cues during the canter... "sink into your heels", "shoulders up", "look ahead", "slide your bottom with his movement". Neat to be in the gait long enough to work on it. I wasn't having to kiss or push with my legs to keep him cantering, either. I guess my seat was secure enough, he didn't think he had to break gait to hold onto me. One time, I stopped moving with him, for a split second, just long enough to think about what I needed to change in my middle to move more with him, and he broke to trot. It was almost like he thought, "oops, Momma changed. I better slow down & get back with her, do what she wants and make her happy." All other down transitions, on a loose rein, all with breath. Just fantastic. No yanking on the reins, no hollering "Shhhh" or "Whoa", or "oh my gosh he's gonna kill me." Just pleasurable. It was a day of "pat Chewie on the neck & tell him good boy, then pat myself on the back, and tell me job well done." Total lesson time, including his 20 minute warm up, one hour, 45 minutes. Whatta lotta work for a big horse. :)
Plans for the week include more canter western round pen, loose rein, and focus on all but hands & contact, and trot in the arena hunter over poles.