I came in at the end of a lesson of four with BO riding her horse and another girl riding her friend's horse. So with Bobby and I in the arena, there were seven riders all together. Amazingly, there was no mass chaos and everything went rather swimmingly. Because the riders were younger and they were jumping (a small xrail line), Bobby got drilled almost completely at the walk.
We started off to the left and stayed that way for most of the ride. I focused on keeping him straight on the long sides and having a nice consistent bend going through the corners. This is much harder than it sounds as he's so crooked in his neck to the left, so it was a good exercise for me to focus on just niggling at him a little so that his body didn't start drifting but he realized I was asking him to straighten his head and neck.
Once the lesson was over, I started doing spiraling circles and big circles with a little leg yield. That's when Mr Smarty Pants shoved his thinking cap down farther on his head and started the wheels churning. I was riding with my hands just before the rubber ends (Yes, I've discovered rubber reins! I'm never going to be allowed back into the hunter world again.), so while I did have contact, it was barely there. He started stretching his neck down and then lifting it back up and bringing his head in almost to the point of over-bending--at which point my reins were loosely looped from lack of contact--where he'd hold it for a bit then stretch back out again. It was like he finally understood that he can stretch under saddle and was testing what it felt like and what he could do with this brand new idea.
Since we'd done almost no trotting by this point, I asked him for it while keeping my hands at the same spot and let him play around with his own head. We stayed on a circle and while he started out with his head in the air, he again began to streeeetch down then in like, "Hmmm....this seems to work at the trot too. And it kind of feels good...." Slowly but surely, he began playing around with it less and less and started carrying it on his own, and the rest of his big dumb body started coming along to until he gave me the fanciest trot ever. He was so boing-y and bouncy and loose in his whole body.
Hopefully his thinking cap stays firmly in place. Today I got more than I expected and I barely did a thing myself. I think he's one of those horses that can keep to his own agenda and genuinely likes going around in circles learning fun things, whereas Red was prefectly happy dragging his feet and throwing a temper tantrum at the mere word "dressage". Of course, Red could jump anything you put in front of him without a second thought, and I'll be happy if Bobby goes over a crossrail without a heart attack the first ten times.
|back to the barn in the pouring, freezing rain.|