I gathered up myself, got dressed, donned my spurs, and grabbed my horse. Ransom was so willing walking up to the trailer, the poor guy. He had no idea what was coming.
I got his front legs wrapped, saddled, and snuck the side reins on. He wasn’t paying attention, right? I slid the boucher in his mouth, and slowly adjusted the flash. Oooh, now he’s getting cranky.
Out to the arena, side reins on, oops, go up a hole shorter. That’ll be a good starting point. Leave them there a week or so, see how he holds up. At first, he walked out, trying to fight the bit and realized quickly that wasn’t happening. I asked him verbally to whoa, asked with body language, and finally tugged on the line a little. OOPS! He tossed his head as he realized that first off, I meant “whoa” for real, and secondly, yeowie! That really IS a bit in his mouth. Lunged out five minutes each way, walk, lots of trot, a little canter. I wanted him to realize that bit was there, and the contact would be solid.
Hopped on, and started right off on good contact. He tossed his head in protest, so I shortened my reins a bit more. A lot of walk, halt, walk, halt, walk, halt, Any time that his adorable head came up and he refused collection, I’d add leg & push him forward. Leg was a whole new situation as well. If he refused to listen to seat, then calves. Ignore the calves, add spurs. Whoop! For a while, I swore Ransom was swishing his tail at the bugs. Then I realized that was me. He was NOT happy about the spurs. But he didn’t squirt out from under me, and in a few cases, he definitely increased his forward momentum.
I got a little canter in, but not much. He could hold about a circle at canter before dropping down. I left it go all but once. The final canter-left, we argued about the up transition, so when he did get in it, and tried to break, I forced another six strides before allowing a trot.
Speaking of trot, when it was “on”, it was magnificent. Light posting, and a lot of sitting. He didn’t try to racey-chasey, but often leaned on my hands. Tug Tug leg leg, and release. He’d pop his head up, but then settle back down collected. Anytime I had a nice steady trot and light hands, I’d praise him verbally & give him a quick pat. We ended pretty enough, with as many as five strides in a row light.
You know what they say about dressage horses LOVING the notion of the long & low walk? Now I know what they mean. Ransom was eager to take his long & low walk breaks, stretching waaaay down into the bridle, holding tension all the way to the buckle. I gave him many of these, but not for long periods. He’d get about a circle (usually even less) of long & low walks, and then I’d gather him back up & get back to work.
Total work was 10 on the lunge, 30 solid work, ten walking to cool out. A nice start of our serious dressage focus.