It rained cats and dogs yesterday (over half an inch which is HUGE for this part of California) so working in the arena just wasn't gonna happen. Eyeballing the black sky, I saddled Speedy G up for a hack around the neighborhood. He was a jerk from the git-go: a P.I.T.A. while bridling (How many times have I used this bit? A lot buster - open up!), while tightening the girth (it is NOT too tight!), and while mounting (get back here!). I knew that a quick ride might be a disaster in the making, and it really wouldn't be Speedy's fault. The weather was questionable, and the route was slick black top with extremely muddy shoulders.
I threw caution to the wind and headed out anyway. Speedy will be eight years old in two days and is approaching the status of d-e-p-e-n-d-a-b-l-e. He behaved as expected. The entire time he had his tail over his back and he jigged and bounced and snorted at every perceived it's gonna eat me, Mom! sound. I did lots of sit-back-hards to stop his building momentum, but tried to give him the rein when he relaxed. Yeah, he was wiggly, but we were communicating.
And then it happened ...
Now I know what walk, trot, and canter feel like. I know what an extended trot looks like, and I can get a wee bit of extension from Speedy when he's really working well. I know what a piaffe looks like and have seen Speedy execute that particular movement many times in hand. So when I tell you what he did, I KNOW you're going to pphhttt!!! me. No way, he didn't do it. You just aren't in the know.
In the know or not, I know what Speedy G volunteered, and it was the most awesome PASSAGE ever! WHAT?!?!? Yup. Passage. Paaaa - ssss - aaaaaa -ge! It was FAB-U-LOUS! I know I didn't ask for it, and I have no way to repeat the movement, but I don't care. It was like we were trotting on a trampoline. That's the only way I can describe it.
I felt Speedy coil himself up and I KNEW that if I asked for a halt, he was going to explode. Instead, I just sat deep and asked for forward. I felt the reins go slack and suddenly we were bouncing forward. On black top. With no pounding. I burst out laughing and urged him on. Go, Speedy, go! It lasted for at least six strides before he fell into a jiggy trot, but during those half a dozen strides, I laughed out loud with glee and let him carry us both down that road. It was the most incredible feeling I have ever experienced on horseback.
Thanks, rainy day, I owe you one!