I’ve picked up on a Ransom pattern – one day good, one day bad. One day great, one day terrible.
Sunday evening, after mowing the arena, fixing the fence, and getting some other Sunday-norms accomplished, I was ready to ride. Ransom’s side rein warmup was good. A little slow, but good. I chalked it up to a hot day, and the fourth day of work.
Hopped on. Asked for walk. Spent some ten minutes bickering with him about walk/halt without some sort of fussiness. Head popping up, total lack of collection, and generally crabby. If he would come halt real pretty, he’d go back to walk really really ugly. One or two strides nice, then head up in the air, being generally nasty.
Asked for trot, searching for lameness or soreness. None to be seen. On any collection, he’d be short strided, but if I’d let him reach out on the reins, he’d lengthen his stride & be nice moving again.
Back to walk. And right back to ugly. Finally frustrated and refusing to spend all night until dark waiting for a nice halt, I put the side reins on him, and hopped back on. (Yes, dangerous, I know, but he’s normally such a calm critter.)
I quickly realized – the side reins were loose. Flapping loose, as a matter of fact. I barely had the bit reins in my hands, barely asking for more than direction & a little pressure at halt. He was incredible. Gentle, nice, paying attention. I kept them that way for about 10 minutes. A tiny bit of trot, but 98% walk/halt. The walk/halts became as magical as they were Saturday.
I took the side reins off, and went back to the circle walk/halt. Much improved. Still not fantastic, but improved. I settled for two in a row each way, let him stretch it out, and ended the ride there.