I have been reading a book recently, and it has reminded me that intention matters. It isn’t a riding book, but a book about leadership, which, when you think about it…riding is about leadership, so maybe it is a riding book!
Neuf and I are in a good place, but I’m still struggling with his getting “stuck” in deep corners, particularly going left. I’m pretty sure this is a weakness, as he warms up out of it, and it has been getting better. We still usually have at least one kick-out/objection to forward per ride, but it doesn’t feel like Neuf’s intention is really to get out of his job, but more that he is saying this is hard.
Today, I rode with the intention to not have a single kick out during our ride. But, still have forward, so this was not going to skip the hard stuff, but my idea was to figure out if I could develop our ride so that there was never any point to him feeling the need to object to the effort required. This translated into a riding a better warm-up, one where I was using feel, not exerciess
It worked. We had a fabulous ride, shoulder in, haunches in, leg yielding, 10m circles, 20m circles, bending and counter bending, really focusing on suppleness and feeling when there was a tightness to work through. Only increasing intensity or changing gait after checking all the soft, listening buttons.
At the end, I went out to play with Neuf on my little “project”, which is turning Neuf into my Warmblood Retriever. Neuf picks things up for me…
So, I’m working on transitioning this into picking things up for me, when I am on him. Namely, fly masks in the field. Since horses often take off their fly masks in turn out, then the easiest way to spot them is from horseback, then you climb off, get the mask, climb back on, the logical next step is to get my horse to pick it up and give it to me.
We’ve made excellent progress. He’ll pick up the fly mask, then turn around but he drops it before I can grab it. I have been giving him his cookie, since he has figured out the next step in the puzzle, but last week he did it twice, then he just quit, because he was obviously confused as to what was expected. I got off, had him pick it up and turn to give it to me on the ground, to back up a step, and stopped at that. I’m trying to figure out how to break this down into smaller steps, so he understands to hang onto the fly mask until I’ve got it. This might require some gentle, tug-of-war with a Wubba (a dog toy that Neuf likes to squeak and toss) play.
Bali is footsore in her right front. I took her into the clinic for a workup to rule out soft tissue, and the vet determined it is in her foot, not likely a suspensory injury and he prescribed 2 weeks of resting/walk only, so I’m working on all kinds of walk work. It won’t do anything for her cardio-fitness, but it is good, contemplative/meditative work. And, it definitely allows for giving my friend’s one year old nice, long rides!