I just haven't had as much saddle time this last few weeks as I would prefer. We went to the cabin over the weekend which meant I lost another ride day, Saturday, but gained a day away with Hubby so it was worth it. By Sunday afternoon, even though it was a bit hot, I was determined to be up in the tack at least once, and hopefully twice.
I saved Speedy's ride for second. He's usually the easier one to ride, and lately, I find it to be less like work, and more like fun. We warmed up as usual with me asking for some flexing and moving his shoulders around. He was heavy on the rein at the walk so I also asked for some halts and rein back.
By the way, the rein back is really, really fun to ride. Speedy is getting that concept so thoroughly that I can control each backward step with my leg cues. When we first started, he wanted to rush backwards, but now he is listening to my legs and backing with each squeeze. I've been playing around with backing him more and more slowly. The only problem is that when I ask for forward again, he's not quite sure if he's making the right choice. To go forward, I release slightly with my hands, and I ask with alternating leg squeezes; right, left, right left. He'll get it.
After the rein back, I asked for a forward walk and then asked for a trot. Speedy balked royally and put up such a stink that I actually laughed. In the past, I would have been pissed at his resistance which would have lead to a terrible ride. Instead, I asked again, but this time, I put a bit of spur into the request. Speedy leaped forward and threw in a buck. I halted him firmly, no bucking allowed, and then sent him forward with a loose rein.
It was so gratifying to feel a hollow-backed, behind the leg horse. I am sure you're asking how in the heck that could be gratifying, but the thing is, I know the difference and more importantly, I know how to fix it!
Within five minutes, Speedy was balanced and reaching for the bit. I gradually shortened the reins and started to ask him for some real work.
Once Speedy was moving nicely forward, I rode every pattern and exercise I could think of: loops, serpentines, 10-meter circles, leg yield, counter canter, and extended trot. Each time he moved into the next exercise with balance, I gave an audible Woot! Woot! and imagined a Tiger Woods first pump.
Don't misunderstand. None of these exercises would have earned us any 10s, but we actually did them without rushing or tumbling onto the forehand. Two months ago, we couldn't hold the counter canter, and the 10-meter circle, especially to the right, was an unbalanced mess. I am having so much fun riding Speedy G, and I think he is starting to think of himself as pretty hot stuff!
Smiles all around for this girl!