Just a quick update to say, whatever Liam’s deal was with slowing down/stopping on Monday, he was back to perfect in our ride yesterday. Of course, right after I got on, I had to test it… just to see… and I kinda thought to myself “Christy, you’re starting something…” but then I told myself that was silly and my horse should stop when I ask him to. And sure enough, he did. No problem. So we walked on a loose rein, then we walked and stretched, did circles and figure 8’s, some leg yield and shoulder-in. Then we trotted and did all the same stuff, mixing in plenty of walk transitions without a hiccup. Then we cantered, and I alternated between asking him to go on more and lengthen the canter some, and then come back (actually lengthening and collecting are still very hard, he can lengthen into a gallop, but then there is no bringing it back! I think it’s more a strength thing than a disobedience thing) and as I brought him back, I would either turn into a 15 m circle to help him to collect correctly and not fall on the forehand, or I would ride a shoulder-fore in the canter until I felt that inside hind leg really push under him. It was a great ride, and throughout he was enthusiastic and cooperative.
My favorite moments were when we were trotting in shoulder-in. For whatever reason, again probably strength, this movement has really clicked for us just recently. It’s something he’s been able to do for a while, like mentally he understands the aids and can position his body correctly, but lately when I’ve asked for the shoulder-in, the way he steps into it is somehow easier, I feel his back really come up and his back end engage. His front end lightens, he seems to grow taller, and his neck sorta pops a different shape, he kinda puffs up. I was aware that it felt somehow different, better, and I glanced up in the mirror as we went down the long side in shoulder-in, and startled myself with the reflection. There in the mirror wasn’t some little thoroughbred playing at being a dressage horse, but an uphill, dancing red horse, engaged and full of power, and yet light and soft, a study in concentration and balance, collection. The moment left me with the feeling I had glimpsed our potential.