This week I think a lightbulb finally went off in Bently’s head. I’m really not sure how, but I can’t complain. Despite a good 8 inches of snow falling Monday morning that cancelled all other activities for the day, I made it to the barn in the afternoon for my lesson. Which I was more excited that for the first Monday in almost 3 weeks I was going to be able to have my normal lesson schedule. Something clicked, either in my brain or his, but we had some beautiful trot and canter work. He was taking a longer slower stride as well as actually bending! The one thing that bothers me the most about Bently and how he travels is the whole ass to the middle and shoulders to the wall. Its so crooked and I pretty much have to take the inside rein away every 5 minutes with reinforcement with my whip to make sure he doesn’t do that.
He was sooooo good that day, and I was so proud of him. Tuesday, I ended up not riding, just because my mental state wasn’t 100% and I didn’t want to get on. I’d rather get on in a mood thats more condusive to working with him, then fight him on things I shouldn’t just because I’m not in a mood. Mindset is so important to me when it comes to riding, and I don’t want to make something worse just because I told myself to get on when I wasn’t in the right mindset and accidentally make a mistake that might take me weeks to fix, especially that we’re on a time crunch to fully convert him from saddleseat to sport horse.
Wednesday was another fantastic day. I fought him a lot more in the beginning for a more correct headset and making him go in the corners. He has this thing against the back left corner where the Ranger is parked, which makes no sense, as his home barn in upstate NY had tractors, horses, jumps and all sorts of loud and constantly moving things in their indoor. After he warmed up a lot more, he kept the headset but the whole traveling sideways thing happened again, so I spent a lot of time taking the inside rein away. Finally I was kind of done with fighting him and doing donuts and contantly hitting him with the whip to get him to bend, so I went to the Yoyo Game.
The Yoyo Game is when you pick up and drop contact with your horse. So I usually let him plod around on a long loose rein while pushing to get him to go long and low for a side of the ring, then pick contact back up and put him in a looser working frame for another side, then repeat. Bently loves the Yoyo Game, he’s so happy on a loose long rein, and he’s finally at the point where he enjoys it and actually moves long and low. I started playing with contact, and I got a full lap with a loose rein, so I decided to see how far I could push it. I dropped him to the buckle, and he left his head down, trotting along merrily. I think my face was about to split with the dopey grin I had going around the ring. I even dropped the reins completely at one point, and he kept going unchanged. He got extra peppermints for that.
Rides like these make me feel a lot better about our time crunch. Within a month and a half he’s progressed leaps and bounds. He still needs to gain weight, he’s a little underweight but not too much , but he has more muscling in his neck in the right places. Today our second lesson of the week with Trainer C, so I already know my legs will be burning, and I hope we get some more “Aha!” moments.