I got a little more less than delightful news at work today. Ugly four-lettered words come to mind, and I've decided my mood needs picking up. Here goes...
Friday morning, Harley had a nice longe, and didn't throw his normal "too many days off" fit. Free longe, followed by the neck stretcher. I'd like to graduate him to side reins, but with our irregular work routine, it doesn't seem fair to change things. The ride was walk and trot only, and with a little effort he improved his bend in the turns. I've found lately, he behaves better and more relaxed on the lines than in the corners. I refreshed my memory on the number of times I've read judges' comments of, "use the corners to rebalance", yet he seems to stretch out & up more in the corners and on the circles.
Saturday early morning was spectacular. The blog headline would be "No Missing Left". On the longe, he was fantastic. Quiet, cadenced and steady. Under saddle, good as well. Straight away, his trot was *big*. Knowing he had canter on his mind, we worked on some walk/trot/halt transitions to focus him on the task at hand, and paying attention to me.
After about ten minutes of trot (direction changes, circle size variation, lines and large ovals), I relaxed him to the walk. I slowly let the reins out, and for the first time, he volunteered the free walk. He reached down into the bit contact. Shocked, I let him walk out a few feet, and shortened the reins. Easily back into collected walk. Very slowly again, I spread my hands a few inches apart, and let him gently pull the reins longer. He repeated this collected to free walk exercise about five times down the long sides before he got lazy and back to old habits. I asked for a little effort/try at it one more time, got some try, and dropped to a loose rein with lots of praise.
Time for his canter work - left lead ask, got it Right on the FIRST ASK. He broke gait, and with a squeeze, right back into it again correctly. We rode canter left all of the arena that doesn't have taller weeds growing, and he was fantastic. Super Super light, steady, and relaxed. :) Canter right he was lazy, and I had to keep the squeeze/kiss going to keep him in it. Out of practice going right , not doing it enough. Thanks Harley, Point made..
Sunday was more of the same. Longe was nice, canter work was fantastic, first ask canter-left was incorrect lead. Eased back to trot, and without much motivation, he worked back into canter correctly. He's picking up on it, for sure. Exhilarating to ride his progress.. Absolutely satisfying to know, even the few rides a week we're getting, he's picking up on the training, and remembering what I'm asking for.
Romeo... Short summary...
Friday - arena. W.T.C. no problems, no issues. A bit of a zip in his step, but I expected it. He's eating well, not moving around much in the heat, and I'm not riding him like I want to.
Saturday - down the road. Walk-only. Of all the things to take a hard look at, he paused and gave some negative snorts at the string of leftover empty trashcans. Dingleberry!
Sunday - back to the arena. Chose to ignore the "Whoa" in my seat and heavy sighs, so I gave him a good hard run, and asked again. Still lazy on the air-brakes. More run it is, Mo. Good hard canter both directions, and again when I let out the heavy sigh, he was much more agreeable to the idea.
Romeo simply put - he's getting lazy in his response, and that will need some effort on my part. I've gotten into the habit of a loose rein, not demanding a perfect reaction to my cues, whether to increase or decrease speed. Fine enough, I know where his cues are. Time to put the spurs back on, and ride him in a bit that means something. One day with spurs and the twisted wire O-ring, and he'll realize I'm relaxed but still the authority.
Yup, that helps some... Now, to get the rest of my day on-track. Where'd I leave that herbal tea.. ahh yes, there it is, sitting on my desk. Chai, take me away... didja get it? didja smile?