As we learned last week, C enjoys using chilly days as an excuse to indulge in some little… behaviors. Mainly, ninja kicks and miniature booty-bumps– nothing simultaneously athletic and naughty, but enough to prompt questions from me.
Because they’re such little behaviors and I don’t want to complain until he flings his ass over his head, I refer to them as “boogery” and not naughty. Sure, the behaviors are annoying, and a dressage judge might be extremely unimpressed, but it’s not the end of the horsey universe.
naughty versus boogery
Yesterday we were working in the outdoor arena, with the usual threatening clouds looming overhead. I was anticipating a little complaint on C’s part, and it came, but with more irregularity than our jump lesson a week ago. Only one medium-sized kick when I asked for canter, and a little buck at the posting trot (??? what even!). Still, I was able to have C focus enough to do some actual work.
Nicole at Zen, Baby Horse! (who seems to be becoming an unwitting regular mention in these blog posts, bless her) gave me an exercise to help C learn couple of things: 1) not to drop in his shoulders and 2) move laterally off my leg. It’s a bit like a reverse shoulder-in; counter-bend, but keep him moving forward with his haunches off the rail. This way he’s stepping over in the front and the back. C picked this up pretty quickly, and I was pleased with the results. With a little extra tap of the dressage whip, he was moving very nicely off my leg. It was hard to keep him from halting, since he was bent into the rail, and I honestly was worried about smashing his face into the top bar of the railing. But thankfully, we finally ended the exercise in the intended way, and moved on to some more trot and canter work.
C has been better about finding contact, but he is starting to hang heavy again the longer I ride. I try to be understanding about this, because I think he starts to seek more support the harder the exercises get (like moving laterally, which is asking him to use muscles that aren’t fully developed yet). However, I don’t want that to be the go-to reaction– we’ll be trying to remedy this with some extra training tools. T wants to try a German martingale for our dressage lesson next Friday. All of these are temporary installments, of course. A few rides, and hopefully he’ll learn what I want, and mercifully C is a very quick learner.
On a positive note, C was awesome at the canter. It didn’t feel as though he was struggling, or that fish-out-of-water vibe I got from him before the dressage show. He actually came back to me when I asked; power from behind, collect with the hands, and it felt amazing. Never mind the fact he kicked out once when I first asked. It wasn’t real collection, of course, but it felt like he was actively listening and trying, which was a huge step for us.
On a side note, but also important, I graduate this week. Ultimately, that means I’m going to be moving home and looking for a job, so C is moving too. The new facility is beautiful and I like the new trainer a lot, but I will sorely miss my current barn family, who have all been so supportive and forthcoming with ideas and solutions for every bump in the road. And who knows where I’ll wind up in the end! But for now, it’s au revoir on January 17th for C and me, and back to my hometown.
Facility is huge (and I mean huge), with an outdoor (top right) and indoor for jumping, an outdoor and massive indoor (bottom right) for dressage, and a spare smaller schooling arena (left). I suppose I’ll never have to worry about crowded arenas, since the footing is also all-weather! At the same time, I know I’ll miss the personal, pretty much familial feel to our current place.
Talk about bittersweet…