Sometimes I just want to Go Back - rewind the clock, and return to those good/bad old days when I thought I knew what I was doing.
Take today for instance.
Gus agreed to come out with me, which was nice. My daughter and George rode the whole time in the arena, so we did not go on the trail. I climbed on Gus, and we immediately started the Cloverleaf Exercise (see previous post, Haute Ecole). After a while, bolstered by recently hearing Carolyn Resnick say that your horse likes it when you control his access to food, I persuaded Gus that we might try something else.
We faffed about for a while, trying this and that, me very reluctant to get bossy, and Gus only just keeping his mind off the clover. Gus's trot used to be very headlong and on-the-forehand. At least in the arena, he never even suggests doing such a trot these days. He seems to have embraced the idea that this kind of trot is uncool. But he hasn't replaced it with anything more than a kind of wooden jog. I'm not looking for anything resembling collection -not yet anyway - but I wasn't really sure what I was looking for.
Then all of a sudden I caught a whiff of it - a light, bubbly, enthusiastic trot. I could sense that he wasn't going to keep it up for long, so I did what all good dressage riders do to signal approval. I started whooping at the top of my lungs - "wheeee, yahooo!" - if I'd had a cowboy hat, I'd've waved it in the air. I think he took this in the spirit it was intended. After a few yards, we adjourned to a clover patch for some revitalization - only this time, once again emboldened by Resnick, I insisted he wait for the go-ahead before dropping his head to graze. After a few minutes, I asked him to see if he could repeat the magic. Indeed he could. We did a couple more alternations of happy trot and clover-eating. Before the last Cloverleaf, I asked him to move his shoulder over. "Can't do it." "Yes, you can." "Nuh uh, time to eat." I just read in a recent post of Stormy May's that she has begun to feel it's appropriate to be more challenging with her horses, so I persisted: "Go on, yes you can." "Nope." "Gus, you'll feel great, go ahead." At a moment when I was not asking him, he scooted his shoulder over. Yay! A couple more minutes grazing, and then I was rewarded by a lovely light walk back to barn.
But oh my goodness. The ratio of clover-eating to exercise was - hmm, let's see - about 20:1. This is the horse I'm supposed to be "exercising" for the barn owner. Thankfully, most days he is not there to witness our strange goings on.
Gus executing the challenging Cloverleaf Maneuver