Izzy has been so much fun to ride over the past several weeks. We're not going to hit the late winter shows and bring home any good scores or anything, but he is actually starting to work like a legitimate dressage horse.
On Saturday, he showed me the horse I knew was in there. Don't get me wrong - he's still got opinions, but like he used to do way back when, he pitched a little fit and then decided it just wasn't worth the hassle. You want to trot? Eh ... I'd rather not. Heyyyyyyy! What's with the pokey spurs? OH MY GOD YOU'RE KILLING ME. Alright, I'm going! And the balking was over. Balking is so much easier to deal with than bolting.
Instead of being stuck at one end of the arena with Speedy as a security blanket, Izzy is now confident enough to use the entire arena. When we get to one of the two spooky corners, we sloooooow down and crawl through them instead of powering through. And if needed, I use lots of bend to show him that we'll be leaving said scary corner really soon.
My trainer shared something on Facebook a few weeks ago that really made me stop and think. It went something like this: instead of working to lighten the rein that the horse is heavy on, try to fill up the other rein instead. Oh sweet Jesus has this helped.
Izzy really loves the right rein which means he is always on it. Tracking left means I am holding up 10,000 pounds in my right hand while the shoulder tries to leave the ring. When we track right, I am always bouncing the right rein trying to get him to let it go already.
Instead of getting him off the right rein, I am now thinking about how to get him on the left rein. To the left, that means less inside bend. Being able to see his entire eyeball and even his cute forehead is not a true bend anyway. I need to use way more outside leg and outside rein to straighten him up so that he can take my inside rein. Works like a charm!
To the right, I simply open the outside rein to give him the room to take it. He can't get on the left rein when I keep it on his shoulder, counter bent. Along with that, I also have to LET GO OF THE INSIDE REIN! It seems so obvious, but especially at the right lead canter, he really wants me to let it go so that he can take that outside rein and stretch down.
All of this is amazing. I am no longer riding a rocket on a string. We now have a half halt that he can hear, a stretchy trot, and canter departures that are not explosions. Pinch me please; I think I must be dreaming!!!!