Again, this is weird to write. Courage got all leapy/flail-y with me before our lesson, then expressed a strong desire to repeat the performance in our lesson. All of this was over the slight issue of turning right.
Except this time, it's taking longer than normal to get on the schedule.
Winter has the horses back on restricted turnout, which means I make it a priority to get to the barn every day and at the very least, lunge Courage in a halter so he gets to stretch his legs. He had a light weekend until I came out Sunday night. I turned him loose in the arena and saw this:
To me, that's a horse who looks pretty damn good.
He went through a phase this winter where he just looked like crap. I didn't really video it because it was REALLY unattractive in terms of how he was moving (just stiff and stuck and feet slapping the ground HARD), but here's the best of the worst from the beginning of January:
If you compare the two, I think you'll see what I mean. (maybe?) The top video shows him loose and moving and looking like a dressage horse. The bottom shows him at a very animated point, but if you watch, his legs actually aren't moving all that much. Take away the animation, and he looked not very good. Not lame. Just sort of creaky, maybe. Like his whole body was stuck and he couldn't move.
So after the video at the beginning of January, we had some pretty intense body work done and it made a HUGE difference.
|Can't complain about this trot|
And then I tacked him up and threw him on the lunge line with a sliding inside rein and an outside side rein. After I left him warm up, we adjusted those to working length.
And HOT DAMN I wish I'd taken pictures. It was magical. Right and left, he was super responsive to voice commands. I could do 3-4 calm, correct transitions in one 20m circle. He was light and stretchy and moving and... I don't know how to explain it. He looked great. He was relaxed and forward and easy. Everything I'm working towards, he gave me.
Pretty much all I said was variations on "good boy".
|using a flash the way it was designed. with a standing.|
But I needed a little more information. See, when I rode in our lesson the other day, he wouldn't take an honest contact for anything. He fought and he fussed and he chomped and lurched. I assumed it was a pain/anxiety response more than an attitude thing.
Except a horse in pain doesn't move like the one in the video and it CERTAINLY doesn't lunge like a perfect angel. And that's interesting.
I didn't ask Courage to do anything hard under saddle--we just did our usual first five minutes of a ride--bending through his body, asking him to step under and take a contact.
Which he did.
And then I got off.
|so charming in his cooler|
We rolled into trot and he was FANTASTIC. Not a little good. Really, really good. I kept things simple because I still don't know what I'm dealing with, but we even schooled our leg yield (intentionally pushing his buttons) and they were solid.
|bonus great outfit|
Except I asked again Monday and he moved over like a total champ. Didn't even hesitate.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN PRECIOUS.
|coy horse is coy|
I have no idea.
It doesn't change our day-to-day routine--Courage still very much needed the tactful rides he got in the lesson. We're all learning to communicate here. For whatever reason, Courage felt panicked or overwhelmed by his rides in the outdoor arena. I'm still happy that we were able to work through that without escalating theatrics. I would like to start translating our good inside rides into good outside rides as the weather allows, but that might be a longer process than I thought.
At the end of the day, all I can do is shrug and say "that's sensitive horses".