Now I have a horse that is decidedly not-Courage. I can't get over how relatively easy she is to work with, but at the same time, the skills that Courage brought me are the skills that are going to shape Zoë. While she is a horse that would let me "get away with" more, I think she is going to be that much better of a horse because I can be more educated in how I approach her.
|definitely not courage|
|such a cute lil buffalo|
In pursuit of that, we do cavaletti from time to time. Because Zoëbird is her own sort of lady and not mindlessly hot, I've had to adapt how I work with her. She's very intelligent and doesn't require many repetitions to figure something out, which is good, because her idea of a good time is not just running for an hour.
However. Sometimes you introduce multiple cavaletti in a row and you get something that looks like this:
|I R TRIPPIN MUM|
(video here if interested)
It just wasn't her day.
But you know what? The next day, I set cavaletti again (snow was sliding off the roof and I didn't want to ride. sue me). (And yeah, ZS ZB gives the amount of shits you would expect. It's my brain that's the problem.)
The little lady had thought things through and her very first pass, she slowed her cadence, lifted her shoulders, and freakin' cavaletti'ed like a champion.
|VERRY CAREFUL TROTTIN|
|WUT R LESSON MUM|
It was so valuable to me to have my trainer stand there and put the disjointed thoughts I've had about our rides into coherent sentences that make sense and then give me strategies to address our weaknesses. For example, I've noticed that Zoë sort of goes NEEEROOOOOOOOM down the long side with mirrors, but when we come back on the other side, she piddles around and I can barely keep her going. I've been trying to kick her forward in the slow moments and slow my posting when we're zooming with ah "mixed results".
|not related but stinking adorable|
Trainer said right off the bat: "Your horse doesn't have good natural rhythm so you need to post definitively and SET THE RHYTHM FOR HER."
Yeah that's a good idea.
It super worked too. Huh. Trainers are magic.
Because see. Courage was a horse with a very light touch--he'd baaaaaarely take a contact and overreact to every tiny thing. Zoë is intelligent and sensitive and lovely (and I adore her), but learning to ride her is a whole new world. On her, I can pick up the reins and have a little contact. I can post definitively. I can actually think about what my body is doing and work on myself (even now!) because her default is to slow down and take a break.
And again--I am not the anti-Courage committee. That horse taught me a lot of things, but riding him was and had to be very intuitive and instinctual because there was not time to think in the saddle.
I understand intellectually that I need to ride with my fingers closed, thumbs up, and elbows mobile. I can explain biologically that there is a tendon running through my arm that is locked when my hands are flat and mobile when my thumbs are up. I KNOW that open fingers just mean useless reins bouncing on the horse's mouth and closed fingers with mobile elbows is the route to steady, soft contact.
I know those things.
|MUM R NOT SUPER GUD AT LERNIN|
But when trotting my nice little mare (who doesn't even go on the bit yet), trainer got us to a place with good balance for a few strides and in those strides, I actually felt the reason why all those things mattered. It's hard to explain. I'm not saying we became dressage pros or magically better, but just her limited acceptance of the contact was still light years better than I've been on in a while and it was this sort of blinding flash of like OH I GET IT NOW.
And then it was gone, because that's the nature of things right now, but like.
Just that one moment was enough to excite me.
Zoë is going to keep teaching me about how to learn, but the places she will take me?
What a stellar lady.
|very tired. can wait.|