If I didn't know better I'd swear there was cuttin' horse blood coursing through my Thoroughbred's blue-blooded veins.
That boy can drop rump and spin 180-degrees without thinking about it then take off like his tail was on fire. It's actually quite fun to ride...when I know it's coming!
Last night's arena ride was lazy and slow but we did good work. I remembered to ride the effort, but also took the time to just give him his head and let him find his own way without me nagging at him. I can become quite a "nagging" rider if I don't keep myself in check, especially on Gabe. He never expends more energy than he absolutely has to, so, to keep him working at a good walk or trot, I have to keep on him, pushing, pushing, pushing. Unfortunately I've been known to get stuck in the rut of pushing and nudging...I get into a rhythm...and I forget to give him the release/reward when he DOES step up. I worked on very obviously giving him a release when he stepped up like I asked. Granted, he reverts back to the drag-butt pace in a few strides, but I gave him release and only "nagged" at him when he started dragging.
We had plenty of Losgelassenheit, but not a whole lot of Schwung! Must work on the Schwung.
For portions of the ride I just released him, completely, and let him do as he wanted. I think it's good for a horse to know that every now and then they are in charge and can make the decisions. I believe it builds their confidence and encourages decision-making (if that's possible!). I'd rather have a horse who is confident enough to try to get us out of a bad situation than to wait for me to make a decision in a split-second...such as over cross-country jumps or out hunting.
After every ride we go out for a short trail ride as our cool-down and a nice hack-out after the real work. The farmers are in the fields and one of the fields next to my property is harvested so I decided we'd take a swing around it.
The combines have been out and spent most of the day behind the horses' pasture yesterday so I thought "eh, the combines won't bother him, he's seen 'em all day!"
Boy, was I ever wrong. Apparently the electric rope around the pasture prevents the combines from eating the horses. But you take him out of that roped off safety zone that giant, rumbling machine with teeth is GOING TO GET HIM!
As we were riding around the field one of the combines came up a rise and around a corner in the next field, straight towards us, spewing the remains of corn husks and smiling at Gabe with it's shiny, flesh-ripping teeth.
Gabe lost his everlovin' mind and decided he needed to save both of us from the corn-chomping monster. Drop rump, spin and RUN!!!! AWAY!!!!! from the beast of DOOM! I guess he DID have some energy hiding in that big body of his...he was just saving it for an emergency.
I thought I was a goner for a minute and remembered to push my heels down, shove my legs forward, stand up and press my hands firmly into his crest so he'd pull against himself, not me. Good thing I hack out with my reins bridged!
I let him run a bit and we settled quickly into a less frenetic rhythm. The thing about Thoroughbreds is, if you just let them go forward to get it out of their system, they get their minds back rather easily. If you fight them and make them go slow, slow, slow, the tension just builds to explosive levels. So we galloped. He snorted and blew and sweated and we galloped. Not far, maybe half a mile, but far enough for him to start to relax.
All I have to say is this: I am SO glad I put a really good stop on him or we may still be galloping!
Then, I turned his big gray butt around and we walked/jigged/hopped/side-passed right back towards the maw of the metal beast. He didn't want to, but he went because I insisted. And once we got close enough (a couple hundred feet), I made him stand/jiggle/wiggle/dance and wait for it to make a corner and head away from us before I allowed him turn around and walk back from where we came.
There are lessons in everything and in everything, I take the opportunity to turn it into a learning experience in the hopes that one day the corn, the telephone pole, the combine and the waving marker flag will no longer incite him to turn tail and run.