Sunday, September 8, 2013

The lightbulb moment

So the right lead canter departure is rocky (putting it lightly).  In fact, it is probably the ONE thing that isn't going incredibly well right now with Soon.  He is a delight to handle.  He is a delight to ride at all three gaits, and hacks out on his own.  He has outstanding ground manners, is quiet and kind, and funny.  He even falls asleep while I pull his mane.  But we just can't seem to "get" the right lead canter. Until today.

I love this boy!
Saturday's school took several attempts from both the walk and the trot.  I remained totally neutral and brought him back to settle if he got worked up (which he always settled quickly).  We eventually got the lead, and had a nice quiet canter and a quiet stretchy trot to end the day.  Today though, I decided I'd try the right lead canter fairly early on in the ride, and before any left lead canter.  After the third attempt, I did a right rein lateral flexion exercise to get him back into walking forward into my contact on a right bend. Then did the same at the trot.  I then asked for the canter, and I felt him start to shift to that left lead.  BUT, then he noticeably ceased that and shifted to pick up the right lead.  It really felt like he had that little lightbulb moment as if to say "Nope, I think she wants this lead so here I go."

I was totally thrilled!  Such a little thing, but it means the world.  It is nice that he and I are both cool customers, and even after a few misfires, we can still have a perfectly calm, relaxed ride.  His canter is lovely, as previously mentioned.  It was just nice to feel him figure it out.  He felt much more balanced and deliberate in that transition than ever before.  I will replicate that exercise in hopes that we get the transition sooner, and reinforce what we're learning.

Looking forward to his ride
Once again, I am thoroughly impressed by his work ethic, attitude, and intelligence.  His trot work is getting VERY good.  He's carrying himself so much better, he's soft in the bridle and rides very well off the leg and into the contact.  I don't even have to touch the reins, just maintain my hands and the contact, and push him off that inside leg into the outside rein.  He pushes forward from behind and gets round on the bit.  SO cool!!  It's just so nice to feel from where he started, and how easy and quickly he's learning.  He also is much better balanced around circles and other school figures.  He's getting stronger.  :)  He is such a soft, light ride and it makes me very happy and excited.  If we play around with any horse trials or three-day events in the future, we should have some decent dressage. 

We ended the day with a walk down the driveway.  Afterward he had a nice cool shower and an hour long hand graze.  He definitely earned it.  He is unbelievably sweet and I can't gush enough about how much I love his character.

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