Man, I love mares. And having the same discussions with them every. single. ride.
Me: “This is my leg, what is the correct protocol to follow when you feel me use it?”
Me: “Wrong. Try again. This is my leg-”
Cho:”IGNORE ALLTHE LEG”
*smack* Me: “this is my leg.”
Cho: *tail swish*
Me: “this is my leg” *smack*
Cho: *tail swish harder*
Me: “CHOLULA MAE. THIS IS MY LEG.” *SMACKSMACK*
Cho: “FINE.” *tail swish for good measure*
Some variation of this, every ride. Monday night it was for both forward and moving off of my right leg (the damn right leg). During turn on the forehand, we went through leg backed up by whip probably 7 times with the right leg. She’d already done it off of my left leg with no issues.
We did some trotting ground poles, which she nearly face-planted on the first time (we also go through that approximately every single time there are poles on the ground), but at least scared herself enough that she picked up her feet like the poles had teeth after that.
(Should I be surprised by the filly that at a couple of days old, ran bucking circles around her mother until she biffed it, Bambi-style, legs splayed in every direction?)
But despite all of this and for the first part of our ride seriously considering tying her to a tree with a free sign around her neck, something clicks. It always feels like an on/off switch; I rarely feel her gradually getting better. Perhaps that’s an adult amateur issue and not a Cholula issue, but suddenly we’re golden.
And riding her when she’s on the aids is the best.
Monday night, for the first time in nearly 3 weeks, I rode her collected. It wasn’t for a super long time, and we didn’t do much but play within the trot, shortening and lengthening, bringing her up into my seat. I know we had REAL lengthenings because I could sit them – she was lifting her front end and propelling from behind.
I made sure to praise the hell out of her for every effort and accomplishment. One thing I learned about her in the first few months was that she thrives on praise. Punishment? She will shut down and ignore you.
I haven’t decided what we’re going to do tonight. I feel like I should continue to incorporate poles into our rides to help with coordination and impulsion. And since we haven’t exactly mastered a couple of them on the ground at the trot…yeah, poles.
And thus marks the end of 2014. Cheers to 2015 and bronze medal progress? Maybe?