No new Stubben is headed my way just yet. Sadly, they did not have any of the Juventus S models in Johnny’s tree size, so we’re back to searching, since the hubs is less than thrilled about dropping a grand on a few pieces of leather stitched together. If I asked him for two grand or more, he’d probably kick me out of the house, and my tack room isn’t insulated.
But, I held it together anyway, and my fingers are crossed that I’ll get done early enough tomorrow to head to Atlanta for some saddle searching. The best news, though, is that Johnny did so amazing for Andrea yesterday. Our last trainer pushed for sending Johnny more forward and trying to hold him together, but Andrea suggested we focus on slowing him down. She called his hyper-trot a camel trot, and said since we know he’s got speed, we can ask for it later. She worked on the downward transitions, since I had so much trouble sitting down and holding him together on the downwards. My smart guy was so willing, and by the end of her ride, she had him stopping with the reins on the buckle. She gave me plenty of homework, and I got some great photographs and video. Always nice to watch him go!
So, this morning, I saddled Johnny up and really put my leg on him. Not long ago, putting my leg on that strong would have resulted in a sky-high head, hollowed-out back, and a run for the roses. Today, he dropped his head, lifted his back, and stepped waay underneath himself. Of course no one was around to see it. We did so many walk-halt, walk-trot-walk, halt-trot-halt transitions that he became super responsive to my seat and legs, and it was like riding a different horse, so I got brave and asked for a canter transition. At first, he gave me his old response, but I remembered to let him sort it out instead of getting after him. We went back to the trot, regained our balance, and I sat down, wrapped my legs around him, and used my seat better this time to let him know I wanted CANTER instead of faster trot. VOILA! Ba-bam! I was as giddy as a schoolgirl at her first prom, and of course, no one saw it. The real test, though, was asking for the right lead. As usual, he gave me a left lead, so I counter-cantered him long enough to let him know a canter was the right response, then brought him back down to a trot, regrouped, and asked again. Hello! Who are you, and what have you done with my crazy OTTB??! Gosh, I love his canter. It’s such a big, powerful upward canter. I could ride it all day, but haha, my poor roaring pony can’t breathe yet since he’s still out of shape. Then, the test of all tests…as I could feel him getting tired, I sat down, and quietly asked him to walk. And he did. Whoa… And freaking no one was around to see it!! Guaranteed, if he’d been running around all crazy-like, there would’ve been at least four people watching him go.
I always love letting my trainers ride my horse–it helps to have a more knowledgeable rider teach Johnny, rather than us learning together. Truly grateful for the massive improvement that Andrea helped us achieve. Watch out, USDF, we may just be making an appearance (at the lower levels, of course!) in a 20x60m arena soon!