This silly horse is going to make me work for each and every stride. This is a whole new experience for me! I've always ridden horses who require quite a bit more whoa than go. The only horse I remember riding who didn't have much go (and required a tremendous amount of leg!) was a big Holsteiner named Wally. He was WORK and by the end of each ride I was completely exhausted.
Gabe wants me to ask for every stride. Left leg. Right leg. Left leg. Right leg, swinging and cueing each stride. My hips and seat bones very actively "walking" with each swing of his hind legs. As soon as I stop asking he kind of dribbles to a stop, which is frustrating for me. I've had instructors tell me I have a "hot seat," and tend to make hot horses hotter and slower horses much more active. I don't know why my "hot seat" isn't working for Gabe!
I need to teach him how to keep walking, at the pace I put him in, until I ask him to change. That is my next challenge. He's figured out the walk cue, now I need to keep him walking. Our turns are better, still kind of ugly and crooked. Our lines are NO where near straight, our circles resemble amoebas more than they do circles and his head is all over the place. He's unbalanced and he's not very confident in what I'm asking him to do. There is a "scary" part of our riding arena right next to the woods. It's deep, it's dark, you can't really see very far into it and there are squirrels and what not making ALL kinds of noise in there. He doesn't really like passing that part of the woods very much has really been hesitant about going near it, but, he's getting braver.
We're making progress, and that's all I ask.
I totally get why he was a complete failure on the track...he really doesn't want to have to expend any more energy than absolutely necessary and he'd rather follow another horse than lead. I can say though, although frustrating, it's a pleasant change of pace not to be on a horse than I'm half-halting every five strides.
He is also the kind of horse who is going to need to be ridden very regularly. He is not the kind that I can give a month off and expect to start right where we left off. Which I got very used to with Star. Chief and Calypso (Chief more than Calypso!) I can toss in a pasture for months and pop back on without having to do a few "remember this?" rides.
He is a challenge...but not in a bad way. I love figuring out how his brain works and trying to work with his brain and personality instead of forcing him to conform to the way I've always ridden and worked horses. It's good for me to have to think and ride outside my comfort zone.