Comparisons are always important to understand what’s what. We wouldn’t know what hot is if we didn’t know what cold is and such. So, because Rocco isn’t real proficient with his ground work (or his mounted work, but we’re not going into that part for this article) it’s a great time for Jessy to learn what stiff, bracy, unresponsive and shutdown feels like so she knows how good good work is. If a horse does all the requests easily the person doesn’t have the opportunity to learn much, they frequently think they’re good instead of allowing that the horse is the good one.
Well, Jessy did a bit of on-line work with Rocco a week ago when I had gotten him to a point where she was able to have some learning. Then, this time she saw a huge change in his behavior and softness along with his focus and abilities. While there is still a lot of work to be done, he now provided her with the opportunity to learn what she is going to need when she returns to Germany and gets to start over with her horse, Sunshine.
After we were done with Rocco, I had her put Black thru the same exercise and there was nothing to it. Soft responses on a loose line – easy peasy. She was amazed at the difference.
Then, while Jessy has been on Black several times – always bareback, but also on-line with me in the middle - for the first time, I gave her the reins.
They were just going to walk around a bit while they got acclimated and I could make some adjustments to position and such and in about six strides I said, “That’s a canter signal” just as Black softly went into a beautiful canter. “Let your leg down and soft and off her. Move your elbows back an inch and head toward me.” Black dropped to a halt right in front of me.
“I didn’t move,” she said. “I don’t know what I did that caused her to canter that wonderfully from a walk.”
“Well, I saw the shift and granted no one else would have and obviously Black felt it, but that’s how subtle and soft my horses are. There was a slight energy in your seat, probably nerves, but then your hands allowed the shift to flow and she cantered. Then, your legs got tight to maintain your balance and it kept her going.”
“I never knew it could be like that,” she said.
Oh, but it can, it is and it’s a thing of beauty.
What a fun time we had as we worked on it for the rest of the session.