Grabbed Romeo for an early afternoon ride.. OI! The things I do to manage having the horses and a personal life. Had it not been for the nice winds rustling, that ride would've been unbearable for both of us. It was incredibly hot... Something about South Texas I still don't love much. May never get used to it, either. Just got to make sure I'm always living where the wind blows - out in the country, up on a hillside... as much as I can control it.
Saddled him up Western, with his french link bit, hoping to not focus on me, but more on him, for collection & general gait disposition.
He was good, again. Solid... Walk, trot, canter. Leads were better today, with only one mixup. Might've been my cues, so I didn't get upset, just slowed him down, repeated walk & trot, then asked again. We rode for nearly an hour, alternating gaits, and worked through my dressage pattern pieces to "get my spots", recognizing when my mind & eyes need to be thinking about the next part of the test. Romeo's trot to halt is solid! *laugh* Uncollected, but solid! All I gotta do is sit deep & say "whoa", and he's stopped. It ain't pretty 10s stop, but he stops! Very important in a trail buddy.
After Saturday's ride... I started thinking... A part of why I started the "When does horse and/or rider stop learning?" post last week or so. Romeo and I have hit a brick wall. We don't do anything new in our rides, but reinforce the same stuff. I can put him in an arena, I can put him in an open field, I can pack him down a turn row - he's the same. We can work through all three gaits, and while not collected, they're there. I can say "whoa" almost under my breath, and he'll shut down. He has stickie days where spins, turns, and sidepasses turn into battles, but they're easy enough to sort through. I don't find myself frustrated with him anymore, wishing he would ___ (whatever thing we didn't use to do well that he understands now).
So, I'm pondering some all-purpose training for Romeo. Some direction - Somebody skilled to put some miles on him, and help me find out what he's set out to do. I don't want him skill set specific - i.e. only dressage, or only hunter, or only pleasure. I want to be able to toss a saddle on his back, and while not show-perfect, hop down a trail in any saddle or any bit I choose, and know I can trust him. I want to be able to poke along in an open pleasure show in walk/trot events, and feel confident we did well. But we're at a wall - If he's going to be a good hunter, I don't know how to teach him to jump at canter. If he's going to be a pleasure horse, I don't know how to slow to a lope & teach collection. If he's going to be a dressage horse, I don't know how to collect up that trot & push it forward enough to get a rounded back consistently, not to mention how to teach such a compact little critter to collect up into an uphill canter.
I've gotten a reference from Jen, for a trainer she's using for two of her horses, Cas and Harley. Mary's training fees are reasonable, and Jen was thinking she could be ready for Romeo in August.
So I'm pondering it, I'm considering it, and I'm about decided.