This is what personally riding is for me - an intricate brain game you can play all day and you still want more. Addictive, powerful and engaging.
Rode the youngster again today and he certainly knows how to keep my cells working! Love it.
The thing is my brain might be working but the rest of me is rubbish at catching up!
On my training yesterday I had this volatile little TB chestnut mare to ride - she's a sort of a horse that picks up on every bad move I take and would normally be a very testing horse for me to ride. All my early riding educations was on stallions and you just cannot be too soft - soft with them or they would spend all their time on two legs. Unfortunately, although I do *know* I really need to let the horse let me know how it wants to be ridden first, I do tend to ride a lot of new horses in a bit of my old riding style. That mare hated it when I rode her first time a few months ago.
Yesterday, I decided to treat her as my training mirror and made sure to ride her with no demands whatsoever (as she doesn't take well to pressure) and she went very well. So well in fact that my trainer didn't recognise her (despite the fact she's being used for staff training regularly). Mental note to self: sit there for a bit and listen for as long as necessary. Then ride.
Now, the youngster is big and powerful and half of the time he just carts me around the arena. I wish I could say otherwise ;) After riding him on Wednesday I would say he isn't naturally sharp but today he did surprise me. Rode a lot of transitions as although he was very forward and eager he felt a bit as if he was saying "what? are you talking to me?" and at one point I could literally just think trot to walk and felt him pushing up and forwards straight away. I like a horse to respond quickly, I'd rather have some sort of response, even bad, then nothing.
A., my trainer, forever tells me off for riding too fast so I got into habit of riding everything slower than I would think is slow (if that makes sense). The thinking behind it is that I need to work on suppleness first before I ask for impulsion - at least in theory. So she makes me ride so very slow that sometimes it feels like I am loosing all power. BUT, amazingly, it does work.
It did work with the youngster too in a way. At some point he just flopped his ears to the sides and you could tell he was really listening to my seat, did some really nice walk to canter transitions and some very soft halt transitions which were a bit of a handful at the start. This led to some really nice soft trot work and I could actually both flex and turn him with him feeling straighter. I would still want much more softness in his whole body but you can tell it's there somewhere.
However, and here is a big BUT, I could not get him to work consistently into both reins today and couldn't quite work out what I was doing wrong until I saw his regular rider on him. He definitely needs much stronger tempo and much more leg to work towards the contact. Now, I mustn't say anything too positive or my friend will tell me I am over complimentary but the horse all of a sudden started looking connected and through. If I ride him again I am going to kick on ;)
Got to work on my horse assessment yet...might be that he will benefit from that slow work too.