Obviously the biggest thing ole George harps on is carrying your hands. Bobby has gotten better about the minimal amount I've been trying this since coming back into work, but it still makes him pissy. Regardless, I pressed on and Smarty Pants Magee resigned himself to it and brought his giant head up as well.
The dressage work we've been doing that's been focusing on getting him more uphill definitely helped. Once he realized I was serious about not dropping my hands in my lap at his request, he settled down and put in a call to his booty to come and join the party. What followed was a round, powerful, bouncing canter. Bobby looked like he fit right in with those giant, fancy warmbloods. Only, you know, still ugly and slightly resembling a mule. Plus he was being ridden by someone in holey black paddock boots, brown half chaps, black breeches, dirty gloves, and a hoodie poking out of a men's hunter green jacket that my braid kept getting stuck in. I am one classy lady, what can I say?
I asked him to do canter to trot to canter transitions with seven strides of each. I had a feeling this might be a bad idea since he's kind of a neurotic, overly sensitive nut bag most of the time, and he doesn't like not doing an exercise right so "correcting" him by bringing him back to the trot potentially posed a problem. Well, it ended up going about how I thought it would.
Me: And canter. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Trot.
Bobby: Ummmm, okay....but I thought we were cantering? OMG, now we're cantering again!
Me: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Trot.
Bobby: BUT I THOUGHT I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE CANTERING! WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? MY MIND JUST EXPLODED AHHHHHRUNNINGBACKWARDSNOWAHHHH!!
So, uh, that took some time to sort out until he was confident I wasn't trying to kill him or punish him or whatever was going through his anxiety-ridden brain.
We nixed the seven strides and did a circle of each gait. That worked better for him and we changed it up to canter to walk transitions. To the left, he stepped right into the counter canter... which I actually wasn't asking for, but since it was my fault that I didn't take the time to correct the bend, I just rolled with it and sent him on around the arena. He was like, "Mother fucker, how did I get tricked into this?" Even so, the canter remained round and balanced. We made a lap, and I straightened him out entering the long side and asked for a flying change. Wuh-BAM. For all of thirty seconds, we were fancy asses, you guys!! Faaancyyyy.
It happens rarely. Let me bask for a second.
We moved on to cantering at an angle across the diagnol over the ground pole of one of the to-be-verticals I had set out. The first time, he snatched the bit and charged it. I sat him on his ass with a firm, "No, sir!" and came around again. Hands up, leg on, seat light but in the saddle, and firm steady contact. Tah dah! Quiet, rhythmic, easy. We did it several more times just because it was so enjoyable and then had our walk break.
|after flat warm up. we hadn't even jumped yet!|
He was not so clever with the trot poles. I obviously ran him through several times with the jumps just as poles, but he saw the jump at the end and clobbered through the poles to get to it. Since that wasn't working out so hot for him, we slowed it down and then came in underpowered and had to put in a bigger effort over the jumps. Balls!
After we got things flowing better and he went through to the right well, and to the left with the oxer still as poles well, I let him take another walk break and then did some more trotting and cantering to get the fancy back. Eh, still didn't really do the magic trick. We finally scrambled through with the oxer well enough that I called it quits. The poor dude did more than enough for the day.
I can't wait to see where this new canter gets us when jumping things we can canter up to. The fact that we're having so many issues over the little things that are technical is very revealing. We're missing a lot of basics, and I kind of like it. Not that I like that they're missing, but I like that I can compile a list of things to work on in the indoor that involves more than dressage.