After our last show I gave Opie two days off. He got his feet done on the third day and I gave him a light hack when he was done with that. He felt loose and forward so I called it quits early as I'm always looking for any excuse to not work on hard things. That's how champions are made, folks.
Because then we spent some time on the longe in the front field working over cross country jumps, and suddenly it was lesson time and my horse had been ridden one whole time since the show. Opie was distracted by everything and kept returning every squeak that came from inside the barn with his own bugling. BM asked if he was always such a mess in the outdoor, and I had to admit that
|the best at looking at everything|
It was a tough lesson because it played to neither of our strengths. She wanted Opie to un-crimp his neck and poke his nose out, and she wanted me to stop fiddling with the reins and for fuck's sake straighten my rogue right wrist out. Not unreasonable requests and obviously things that really need to get done in a timely fashion, but ugh. Woe is me, riding is so hard.
In the spirit of "Show season is here, I need to actually ride my horse like a responsible competitor.", I saddled up again Saturday. I mean, I spent most of the ride playing over jumps, but I did work on some canter on the flat as well. That felt semi-responsible.
He did end up getting Sunday off as I had a lot of other grown up things to do which is just the worst, but the past two days we've been back in the grind. Yesterday he was super relaxed and focused so the whole ride was lovely. Leg yields at the walk both directions, some stretch shown at the trot (the actual comment I'm hoping we can achieve because stretching is soslow in coming), and a super relaxed canter. This morning's ride was more of the grinding variety.
The focus from the day before was nowhere to be found. Every noise from the barn set off a scream, and every movement from outside the ring had to be swiveled around to look at. There were a lot of small circles and abrupt changes of directions until I finally had an ear on me.
The canter was dreadful. He wanted to go fast, I wanted him to slow down. He thought quitting was the answer for slowing down, and when he got booted back into the canter it was off to the races again. After a few unpleasant canter-halt transitions I got my point across, but I didn't even bother touching the left lead.
Fortunately, as is always the case with Dopie, we always end on a good note. I've been working on a bigger show trot and its been fun to play with him to see how much he can offer up while holding his balance, and he really gets into his struttin'. We wrapped up with some slow jog on a long rein with a long (for him) neck.
It gets frustrating some days when he takes a huge leap forward in one area and then the next day he doesn't steer anymore, but such is the life with green horses. I'm trying to balance the whole show prep/should probably get my horse trained thing with keeping it fun and not boring myself to tears with remedial work thing. At this point I'd say I'm drifting pretty hard towards the latter. After all, you can still leg yield and work on stretching while out and about!
That's my justification and I'm sticking to it.