When I took Trax out for his ride today, I had some plans in mind. We did not necessarily adhere to them, but we did not totally throw them by the way side either.
I planned on dragging some barrels out and do some figure 8's. We did them sans barrels, because once I got up there and started riding, it just seemed like so much work to get back down and drag them out there. But we used imaginary barrels and did some lovely figure eights while I asked him to follow his shoulder instead of flipping the hip.
He is still really having a lot of trouble with being soft on the left hand side of his face. He weighs nothing on the right and weighs a lot on the left. It didn't used to be that way. It used to be the opposite. So I don't know what changed exactly, but some where along the line something did. The Chrio/dental lady did say that his teeth are worse on the left than the right and he is scheduled to get that done next tues (bye bye paycheck) so hopefully that will help.
We did some lovely leg yields and some trotting and just lots of different little things to warm up. When I asked for the lope he went into race mode. Not like "Holy crap I gotta get outta here" but more like "Wheeeeeeeeeee!"
So I just rode it out and let him go. Although after a long while I finally had to ask if he remembered that I was back there. I didn't ask with my hands or my seat, I just verbally asked, "Hey Trax, you do know I'm still here right?"
Ear flick (Yes I hear you- almost done)
His feet slowed down.
I asked him to slow down.
Then we stopped and went the other direction. This time there was not so much run as just a nice easy lope.
He tried pretty hard on his roll backs and spins, executed his gates with text book precision and only tried to duck out the end of the arena once as we did more trotting.
The part today that made me the most proud though was when we worked the imaginary flag.
He gets it.
Whether we did it at a walk, a trot or even a lope, he nailed those stops like nobodies business, was backing up before I even asked and turned with purpose and immediately moved out again. His head was not down was soft in the face for it all and although he still struggles with the one direction, I really think it is physical and not mental.
Of course I realize he was getting right because he was anticipating my cues, but I'm okay with that today. He is trying and if anticipating helps him feel successful, who am I to complain? Also I think it is time to help things make sense for him. I'm going to show him (again) the reasons why we are learning to do these moves.
One day this weekend we will go move some cows at the neighbors. It is my hope that it will click for him. It might not, but I think it will.
I also planned on doing a complete reining pattern, so I chose the one I remember which is the same one we did at the RC show last year. It took us a few tries, our circles were not round, and of course our spins are lacking. But all in it all it wasn't horrid. I find If I know I am going to compete I need to do some patterns so that I can get used to remembering the course, and also so I remember how to keep the circles round and things like that. We kind of failed on the lead changes but finally I got one good one out of him, so I let it go at that. I tried to use the fence to help with out stops. I won't make that mistake again. If he doesn't think we are going to stop he starts looking to turn left or right and ends up weaving back and forth. Stopping about 10 ft from the fence...he did pretty good as long as I cued and sat it right. One time I didn't and jammed my neck pretty good.
We did some log dragging too. I have got to start remembering to do it every time we ride. It was a fight to keep him under control today at first and it wasn't pretty. This is something that only gets better with practice practice practice.
After that we worked on our trail stuff and we were having trouble backing through the L. I know he can do this but we struggled so I finally just took him out to the middle and moved hips and shoulders and side passed.
This is where I found his big hole and I have some theories behind it.
This horse can side pass for fifty feet from right to left. But he cannot make it 3 steps from left to right without falling apart. I literally measured how far we side passed and it was 1/6 the length of the arena which is 300 ft. He could have gone further I think, but I figured it was enough.
So I put him back on the fence and we tried the "bad" side some more. I finally got to where I could get four steps. So I turned him around and put his butt to the fence, I got 2 steps. Turned him back to the fence and got 4 again. But even the four I got were sticky and awkward.
So when asking to go from left to right he has to bend left and push his shoulder right. He can't bend left. There has to be a reason. Is it the dental, his sore shoulders, or his mismatched feet? I'm on a mission now to figure it out.
One thing I did notice, is that when I ask for the pass I tend to look down at where we are coming from. Once I realized that I switched up and started looking where we were going, and he really smoothed out on his good side, and I think it helped with his bad side but he is still hanging up there and I have got to figure it out.
I ended on a good note although I cannot tell you what it was now, and we moseyed over to the tack room. I worked on his tall foot and was able to go in and trim the bars and heels down quite a bit and so he should be getting a little more frog contact on that side now. I have to take it kind of slow though because I don't know what effect all of these changes on his feet will have on his shoulders.
He is my riding horse and I don't want to make him lame by going all crazy.
After that he got a nice hose down and roll in the dirt. When I left he looked like a bay horse.
I'm excited to go find cows this weekend!