I almost didn’t want to ride Liam today. It was a gloomy, damp, chilly, dreary, sleepy sort of day. The only redeeming value the day had was that it was raining and not snowing. But it was raining relentlessly, the kind of endless drizzle that chills you right through your clothes and makes you wish you were still home, curled up in bed.
But I did get on Liam, and he fully redeemed himself for yesterday’s 2×4 neck incident. He was awesome. There’s no other way to put it. He is getting stronger and more balanced, but also more sensitive and responsive to my aids. As we trotted around, he was soft in my hands and his neck was like rubber. We trotted up the quarter line, instructed to stay on the quarter line the entire length of the arena. He immediately anticipated a leg yield was coming and bowed into my outside leg, ready to move sideways. I closed my outside leg around his body and gave him a gentle half halt, and he collected himself and surged powerfully forward. Yikes, what did I do?!
“That’s ok, ride it!” my instructor called enthusiastically. So I rode it. And his legs reached out ahead of him and we quickly gobbled up ground all the way down the quarter line until we reached the end of the arena. As we neared the corner, I expected him to throw his head in my face and dive across the corner and rip the reins out of my hands as he threw himself back to at the long side of the arena and took off again, but instead, I half halted, and he came a little more together. Politely on the bit, he bent his body gently around the turn and performed a very balanced medium trot corner. Then we turned again and faced the long side of the arena. “Halt halt and let him go forward if he wants to,” my instructor suggested. So I did. And boom! There were those long legs reaching forwards again! “Sit the trot,” I heard as we cruised along. “Half halt again. Good. Keep him soft and round, this is nice.”
And so we went along, experimenting with this lengthened trot he offered. To my delight, he is strong enough to carry it now. As I let him move more freely forward, he remained light in my hands, and even more incredibly, easy to sit on. When I half halted, I felt him gather himself more, and I could slow the trot down again easily from my seat. But as soon as I allowed him to go forward, there it was. And it had suspension! My little thoroughbred no longer had the flat daisy cutter trot, but a real dressage trot!
We left it at that. I felt great, and Liam obviously felt great. And after yesterday, it was great just to feel like a team again. We were working together, moving as one, performing for the shear joy of it. As we came back to a walk, my instructor was going on about how great he looked and how amazing it was that he had come so far in so short a time, and what a great horse he was, and as she talked he began to spiral closer and closer to her while I held the reins on the buckle. Then he walked up to her, his nose against her back as he past behind her, then he halted completely square right at her shoulder. It was the strangest thing. But she rubbed his face, and I rubbed his neck, and I think he figured he had done well.