Having brought Speedy along to where he is today, I have learned that trotting and cantering down the trail utilize a totally different kind of skill set than does ring work. Trail horses require a degree of physical fitness, at least a certain amount of bravery, and enough trail savviness to keep themselves and their riders from getting hurt.
Just five months ago, Izzy couldn't or wouldn't walk where I asked. He balked, he bucked, he squealed, and he often refused. All of that is now behind us. When I get on now, I can actually use the walk to begin suppling his body. He listens as I ask for shoulder in, haunches in, and leg yields. None of it is perfect of course, but the walk is there.
We played around with some baby leg yields, and I know that she was quite pleased with his progress. I need to work on my aids, but he can do them easily when asked correctly.
Nope. Somehow, Izzy knew that we were asking for something new, and he immediately threw a fit and said no. As he squealed and kicked, and whirled, and tried to bolt, I cowgirl'ed up on his butt and laid into him with the whip. I tapped his outside shoulder over and over and sent him into a spin until I heard him say yes ma'am and mean it.
Once we could go forward again, it took quite a lot of time to reestablish that dependable trot. In order to get it, I had to repeatedly give a solid jerk on the right rein every time he gave us his opinion.
Chemaine explained that he was grabbing the rein to tell us that he didn't want to even try what I was asking for. His version of sulking and sassing was to grab that right rein (no matter which way we were tracking) and bolt for the gate. Every time he grabbed it, I bumped it hard and repeated what Chemaine had said, Nope, we don't want to hear your opinion on the subject.
It was a long argument, but I eventually won and was able to pick up the canter going both directions. In this video clip, we've just started tracking left. It gets bumpy here and there, but I got it done. You can see him still thinking about grabbing the right rein as we approach the white fence and track left. That's when you'll you hear me give a loud "Good boy!"
When I finally got a canter, I told Chemaine that I wished I could get judged on my ability to cowgirl up because I can ride the crap out of a naughty horse. In her reply, which you can hear as the video starts, she jokes that she always wins the warm up!
Chemaine had me tackle the problem by using a very strong, short outside rein with my outside leg way back to keep his haunches in. From there, I worked that inside rein, insisting on some kind of a bend. I also focused on riding his shoulders by keeping them in front of me and straight. Sometimes I had to counter bend him with a really strong halt halt to pick up his front end and move it to the right.
The hardest part was riding out the cross cantering. When he couldn't fling his shoulders around, he tried to get me to quit by losing the lead in the back. It would seem that I've been letting him come back to trot when he loses the lead. He learned really quickly that I'll let him stop when he does that. Oops.
Chemaine's advice was to push him through it and let him go around uncomfortably. She was right. When I insisted that he continue to canter, he made the switch and fixed it himself.