Nothing terribly complicated, just some notes for my own processing purposes.
Tris came out on Monday pretty “up”; he had a lot of time off the previous week while I wrangled our bathroom renovation. He’s also getting pretty fit right now and that’s contributing to some extra fizzy energy. So he was trying pretty hard to act spooky for the first 10 minutes or so – walking around on tiptoes, ears in my face, quick little shudders or stops at every possible thing. Someone was sawing and hammering things in the house next to the dressage ring, and he tried to convince me that was worth spooking about probably 10-15 times.
I did not indulge him at all, but kept firmly and consistently asking for him to move forward, with praise for any sign of relaxation, and he slowly worked out of it. I eased off a little bit on my insistence from the previous week about dealing with my set rein length because I didn’t want to pick a fight when he was obviously spoiling for one. (Not riding in the outdoor dressage arena anyway; it’s a long way downhill back to the barn and I did not relish the idea of doing it at speed if he decided to be a shit.)
He eventually gave me some really superb trot work, particularly when I was able to harness the energy of his return to the barn side. I don’t know how much I’ve talked about this before, but he’s hideously barn-sour in the outdoor rings. Getting him to pass the gate and turn back away often involves pony-kicking, and he has a tendency to zoom down the long side back toward the barn. It’s even the case when in the upper dressage ring, when you can barely see the barn. Some days it makes me crazier than others. Nothing has ever made it go away completely.
The best way I’ve dealt with it is by creating a sort of slingshot effect with lots of little figures, and that’s what worked on Monday night. I started incorporating small circles off the long side so I could channel a whole bunch of energy through his inside hind and really ask for a deeper bend. Then I channeled it into asking for canter departs, and we worked a little bit on both of the pieces from the ride-a-test, on getting a feel of the stretchy trot release into our collected trot, and in tightening up and then spiraling out the canter circles.
It was not a long ride, since it was very humid and high 70s (yes, I know for a lot of you that would be fine weather, but for Vermont it’s too much!), maybe 30 minutes total including the walk to and from the dressage ring. He was puffing pretty good at the end of it, but breathing had returned to normal by the time we got back to the barn. He was in a good mood, too, a big swingy walk back to the barn but did not threaten to bolt, just a bit full of himself.
Some good things to keep building on for our next ride-a-test on Sunday, and then probably a home schooling show in September.