To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Same song, different verse

If Sunday's ride was about persistent encouragement, today's was about encouraging obedience. After watching Horton pick up the canter promptly numerous times on the lunge line Monday, I could see no reason I shouldn't get a prompt response under saddle. After all, our goal as riders is NOT to NAG a horse into obeying, but to use the lightest aids possible to get the desired response immediately. My training mantra came to mind: Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy.

Horton seemed eager to trot today, but wasn't pleasant about trotting. After encouraging forward, straight and connected for awhile (not too successfully), I asked for canter – and got balky instead. Not balky to the point of needing remedial lunging, but he got the next best thing. Every time I asked for something – canter, or even just forward and connected at the trot – and Horton acted balky, I immediately brought him around my inside leg in a volte, then back onto the 20m circle we went. We did a LOT of voltes....

Eventually Horton gave me a decent canter depart to the left, and held it until I asked for trot again. I praised him profusely, and followed that with a long, stretchy walk break. Working on the right rein started out much better, with fewer voltes before getting a "yes, Ma'am!" to my canter request – and he stayed in canter just fine! Again, lots of praise followed by another long walk break.

I decided to ask for some polite trot work in both directions before ending our day's schooling session. Horton clearly thought school should be over for the day, until some more voltes convinced him otherwise. Once convinced, we could adjourn. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings!


sylkan said...

I think you have a window into the boy's brain. And you are staying safe in the process. Win-Win!!!! I'm glad he is willing to hold his canter lead. Makes me more sure that his problem is mental vs. physical. Jeff can come check out his adjustment but will be after Sarah & I return from Nampa, ID on the 23rd. I'll touch base and schedule something after that. Leaving Friday the 14th... long trip.

Michelle said...

Yes, I'm beginning to think that as sweet as Horton is on the ground, he had learned he could be a spoiled brat under saddle . . . don't know how, don't know why. But he's clearly capable of learning a new dynamic!