Phew…Sunday’s ride was probably the hardest the two of us have ever worked and it was all at the walk.
Unfortunately Eeyore granted himself a mini vacation after last week’s lesson. Remember how I said he took some really lame steps on the front left after hitting the backside of a jump, spinning left and cantering off to oblivion? Well, he came in the very next morning sans one left front shoe. Best guess is that he twisted that shoe loose during that fun maneuver. The farrier was already scheduled to come out Thursday (will Eeyore ever last a full 5 weeks??? My bank account would like it if he did) so he got time off for that nonsense. Friday we had plans right after work that had us home around 11 pm and then Saturday I was a lump on my couch binge watching my new favorite show, Lucifer, on Netflix. Judge away folks, sometimes this full time working momma needs a day to be a lump.
So Sunday it was and the day dawned blazing hot. There was very little humidity though, so really it was a pleasant morning in the SE. My arena has zero shade and the sun felt like fire burning down (which technically it actually is) which made it the perfect conditions to work on our homework from the lesson. I gave him a brief w/t/c warm up to get the sillies out and test his attitude for the day. He was pleasantly….well…pleasant. He is much happier in the simple single joint full cheek and fights e way less than in the myler I rode him in prior.
My homework was to stop riding him with his nose poking out and begin to introduce the concept of using his hind end and back better and being “on the bit”. During the lesson, Trainer AB had be on a circle around her at the walk, trot and canter and we had some moments of doing it right. At home, I started at the walk and folks…this crap is hard.
My first issue was in figuring out the circle itself. Apparently my idea of a circle has a lot of angles, sharp turns and straight sides…so yeah not very circlish. It was driving me crazy. My arena is a bit large at 225′ x 135′ which gives me a whole heck of a lot of room to wiggle around and mess it up. I was wishing I had some cones to lay out and circle around. Instead I laid out four ground poles creating two separate chutes on one half of the circle as a visual aide in making the shape and forcing me to be on my own on the other half. It worked pretty well.
Back to work we went. Trainer AB keeps telling me that one of our primary goals is to get Eeyore to learn that his feet are not connected to his mouth. Meaning: every single rein aide is not an excuse to slow down, down transition or stop. Getting him to learn to move up into the bridle takes a whole lot of concentration on my part as any increase in rein contact generally signals him to slow his feet. It is a lot of tiny adjustments as we go along and right now all of it takes a lot of concentration and mental effort on my part to get it down. When I manage to add the right amount of inside leg to keep him bending, trap his outside with my outside leg and rein, use a little outside leg at the right moment to keep him moving forward, and still ask with my hands for him to round up and give to the bit, we get it right and the feeling is pretty amazing. When I don’t? We fumble a lot. But that is what practicing is all about, isn’t it?
I started off to the left which is our easier side and really I was quite pleased with it. It took a lot of figuring out all my aides, how much pressure to use, and when to apply and release but eventually I managed an entire circle at the walk. Eeyore has zero concept of self carriage and I’m a bit stuck on just how much release to give him when he gives me what I want without allowing him to immediately lose it all, so the circle looked a lot like a few strides correct, losing it, a few strides to get it back, a few strides correct etc…The thing I was most excited about was how quickly he gave me what I was asking for. In the lesson, he was not quite sure what I was wanting and it would take a lot of ask to get it, but on Sunday it took just a whisper. Even through all the mental effort, I was grinning. It will take a lot of work to gain the strength and ability to carry it longer, but we will get there.
I stuck to just the walk this time. I tried it at the trot, but honestly things just came up faster plus he is even more prone to down transition when life gets to be too much work in the trot, so that added effort stretched my abilities a bit too thin. Rather than stress him out or start confusing us both, I went back to the walk and then called it a day. By the time we ended it had been a good 40 minutes of effort and we were both soaked with sweat t the point my undies were damp. Too much info??? I’m dangerously teetering on the edge of wanting to drill the snot out of this until we get it right…but I know that won’t be productive in the long run especially with Eeyore who can get pretty stubborn about things he doesn’t enjoy. He is a 100% different horse when he decides to play along versus when he gets sullen and bored. The great thing about him is that lessons tend to stick super well once they do break through his thick skull so while right now is a bit of a struggle, I know that once the light bulb comes on it will stay on for good.