After I rode on Saturday afternoon, we had a little trailer loading session. If I was going to be surprised by a refusal, I wanted it to happen while I had all afternoon to fix it. To my delight, Izzy marched right on the trailer. I clipped him in, closed the door, and gave him a minute to think about it all. He backed out politely, and before he had a chance to reconsider, I put him straight back on and again closed the door.
The next morning, a small refusal came, but I had my dressage whip in hand and gave him a reminder of what refusals earn - a hard and quick back up with a tap, tap, tap to the chest. He walked on politely after that. In fact, once we hit the road, I didn't hear a peep from him. I stopped twice to check on him, and both times he was standing there quietly without the nervous sweat that's he's shown in the past.
It was quite breezy, there were new mirrors in the ring below, and the awning tarps were rustling and snapping in the breeze. There was also a group of trail horses cantering up the hill near the end of the arena, and a very yellow horse in the ring below gave Izzy a bit of a scare. All of these things were wonderful distractions because I had to deal with all of them - just like at a show.
Every other word from Chemaine was about getting his attention and keeping his attention. She wanted me to remind him at every stride that I was still up there and that he needed to be focusing on me. In order to do that, I had to get some inside bend while really firming up the outside rein to create a sort of barrier.
If I can keep playing with the inside rein while keeping the outside rein locked down, I'll be able to keep the inside bend which will prevent him from using that muscle under his neck. It's all about that bend, 'bout that bend, no trouble!
He has a beautiful canter when I can be strong enough in my half halts. I's not easy though as he is a powerful horse who isn't very disciplined yet. Here's a video of work on the left lead canter. There's a lot of ugly, but there are also some lovely moments. The best part is listening to Chemaine coach me through the work. It's interesting to hear what she thinks is important - getting the correct lead wasn't her focus. She was more interested in getting that inside bend, just like we did at the trot.
You can watch for yourself ...
That's my homework for the next few weeks: It's all about that bend, 'bout that bend, no trouble! I am going to focus on keeping his attention with an inside bend. I also need to be much stronger in the half halt - I love Chemaine's tip about thinking "canter in place for two or three strides." With better inside bend and a strong half halt, we'll get a decent canter in no time!
I'll leave you with a pretty cool parting shot. Check out that inside hind and the muscle on that badonkadonk!