I have done a lot of time on the greenies and let me tell you, any time I get the chance to sit on something broke, I get REALLY excited. Broke is fun. Training is good. I love buttons and not dying and steering and all those wonderful things.
Courage is finally sort of passing out of the "green" phase and starting to feel like a broke horse like... eh... 75% of the time? I define that as "he might not really want to behave, but I can generally talk him into it".
Honestly, I find that incredibly exciting.
He's more or less a first level horse right now. On his good days, he actually feels quite solid. Whether we move to second next year (unlikely) or stay at first and try to suck less at shows (seems like a good idea), it's time to start changing his way of going--he needs to learn to sit more, push off his hind end, and lift his withers. What's more, his default "bad" at shows is to shorten his topline and make his stride 2" long, so anything I can do to reverse that muscle memory is good.
It's not rocket science. It's simple weight lifting, as Denny Emerson is fond of reminding us. Here's a visual:
After a lot of time and development, here's Courage early this spring. You can see his whole frame has bulked up (it's all muscle, trust me). He's almost thinking about curling his neck in this picture, but you can see the muscle development in his neck, bum, and abs. He's going in a more level balance and he's not free falling forward.
All that goes to say--the less green Courage becomes, the more fun I'm having. Most of my rides are now about developing finesse and strength and correctness. I LOVE those feelings. I do not at all miss last year's "summer of survival".
I want Courage to be able to use that pretty topline he's building. I want to step up our quality of work. I want to start thinking just a little bit about second level. All of those things take a lot of strength. For him to be strong enough to begin collection, he needs to muscles we're building that let him push across the ground. He needs the strong, supple topline that comes from thoughtful repetition of simple exercises.
I dunno when second level is in our future, but I know that every day, I'm creating a softer, stronger, more educated and more rideable horse.
And that is how I enjoy the journey.