Valentine’s Day gifts from my horses

Don’t you love those little moments of horse training when everything aligns and just falls into place? And by everything aligning, I am, of course, referring to the horse. With my forced riding hiatus (thank you 6″ of Georgia rain), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my riding strategy. Apparently Johnny has missed work, too, because today I felt like we truly had a partnership–he was responsive, forward, and energetic without any frantic action. He was waiting for my every move, and all I had to do was ask. That amazing passage-y trot I saw him do when he was showing off for the mares the other day was there right under my seat. I could ask for more energy and catch it with my upper body, sending him through. Oh, sure, we definitely had the clamped jaw resistant moments, but I stayed focused on keeping him straight. He wants to get kinked through the poll, so I watched for it, and as soon as I saw/felt him start to kink up, I used flexion and my leg to get him straightened out again. It was darn near magical, and the coup de grace was a magnificent downward transition from trot to halt that was the best I’ve ever ridden, hands down. I asked, and he simply stepped under himself and came to a quiet halt. It was infinitely smooth and graceful. And no one saw it.
After that ride, I almost left Cayenne alone. I didn’t want to ruin the moment, but I talked myself into saddling her up since it will be several days before I get another chance. And thank goodness I did! Even Cayenne gave me some pretty awesome moments today. I managed to get her stars aligned a few times. I think she was a little shocked, and obviously it was very new for her. In the brief moments that she relaxed, she swung through and had this nice little movement. Even though she’s a bit dead to the leg and very stiff, I find her easier to train than Johnny was in the beginning. I’m not sure if it’s because I learned so much from him, or if it’s because she’s so much smaller and I’m able to better influence her. Or, it could just be the difference between quarter horse brains and thoroughbred brains. At any rate, I’m quite pleased with both my ponies on what could possibly be the best Valentine’s Day ever.

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