I wore breeches and boots even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't ride. I just felt so pissy and didn't want to subject Speedy to a nit-picky ride. His warm whicker upon seeing me changed my entire outlook on the day. I gave him a nice, thorough brush down while he worked on his dinner and then decided to use my endurance saddle to hit the trail afterall, especially since the arena resembled Lake Superior.
I don't know what has happened over the last week or two, but something has literally clicked into place in Speedy's training. He marched himself out onto that trail with a new found confidence, maybe even a swagger! I don't think it hurts that there is lush grass EVERYWHERE that he gets to nibble on when he does something right that I've asked for. Following along the road, loud car approaches, I think forward ... forward while using my seat to push him. He goes forward instead of sucking back with the car ... I say, as though he's won Olympic gold, GOOD BOY! and point his nose to the tallest grass blades I can find. Repeat.
The loop that I did on Wednesday winds through the oil fields but then climbs up over three short, but rather steep hills before heading straight back for the barn. I use the hills for a variety of things, sometimes a light canter, other times I ask for collected trot work. Wednesday I tried something different. I approached the bend toward the first climb in a counter-bend. Speedy knows the climbs are ahead and usually gets "racey" as he approaches. The counter-bend kept him focused and soft. Then I went way off the charts and for the first time EVER, voluntarily did a BIG hand gallop up the first hill. Amazing.
In between each climb is a small downhill and a short flat. I organized him on the downhills, walked the flat, galloped the second hill, and then threw his brain a curve ball by asking him to WALK the third climb. WHAT!!!!??? he wailed.
The 3/4 of a mile home went just as well. He put on his old "I am gonna be jacked-up routine" as we made the final turn for the howmeward stretch, but I politely asked him to put it away. He did. We finished up with some nice working trot, superb marching walk, and one last little slow working trot to the barn's entrance road as a reward. We wrapped it all up with an on-the-buckle free walk to the tack room.
Horses are amazing therapy.