I really enjoy teaching the track horses new skills. There is definitely a workout in it for me though! Today, Wilson’s only real requirement was that he had to be soft. I didn’t care where his head was, he just had to be soft in the jaw and the poll. And so, in order to help him understand about driving the energy forward into the bridle, my legs and seat got a major workout.
Wilson is a good boy. He figured out quickly that a whip in my hands does not mean run forward, but rather “move this body part over.” This came in handy when asking him to be soft. The biggest issue is lateral stiffness through body, especially to the left. He wants to fall to the inside when going left, so to actually create left bend while moving outward on a circle requires quite a bit of support from my inside leg. It helps having the whip to tap either on the haunches, the shoulder, or just behind my leg. Typically, its his shoulder that has troubles moving independently. Keeping an opening rein both directions helps him shift his balance outwards (off that inside foreleg) and move outwards on the circle. We had previously worked on the ground learning to yield to the whip (or pressure in general) and he quickly figured out moving away from pressure. It has translated well under saddle, but his balance (or lack their of) makes it difficult for him to move his limbs laterally.
Still, I was pleased with the results. Most of our work today was at the walk, but I had a nice, engaged and active walk that was also stretched down and forward — oh yes…and soft in the poll and jaw. I think it was probably the best walk that he could give me today, and I was quite pleased with him. He really is trying hard to figure out what it is that I’m asking him to do. Such a good boy!
And its rides like that on Wilson that make rides on my mare even more fun. Today, I rode Jewel outside. I love having a big fenced outdoor arena. I didn’t lunge to warm up, instead I got on and walked for a bit, then a bit of trotting followed by some good gallop. The outdoor is large enough (around 100 x 275) that we can have some good hand gallops where she can really move forward, I can get up into 2-point and she can stretch down over her topline. We did a couple sets of gallops each direction and it really got her thinking forward. We had some really nice, long, forward stretchy trot work after that too. I don’t know how I’ll ever sit that trot. Its powerful and long, but bounces me up even when I post. God…please grant me the discipline to strengthen my core enough to sit that trot. Thanks!
It was a long time coming for Jewel and I to get to where we are today though. I would never have been able to ride Wilson (and any of the other foster horses) if I had never been through all the work with Jewel first. Its been an amazing ride and it just keeps going. I love it!