Friday, July 10, 2015

Light bulb

Theo and I have been working together for just under two months at this point.  We've learned a lot about each other in that time, but there's a lot we still have to figure out.  I stand by my theory that it takes about a year for a rider/horse pair to really lock in, so we're only 1/6 of the way there.  I still don't know how Theo will react to things, and it doesn't help that Theo is changing very rapidly.

He's gotten more mellow, more chill about life while also getting stronger and more enthusiastic about his work.  We were in the jumping field tonight and he needed to wait while Trainer A grabbed a pony to ride down with us.  He stood and watched the cars go by with me sitting on him, completely unaffected and surprisingly patient.  I tried to get a picture of him on his best behavior, but ended up with the trainer photo bombing the shot.

Oops, hey, teach!

She's on Juice Box who is a fun, fun pony that needed a ride away from the kids.  He was ecstatic to go gallop around and jump a bit.  Theo and I weren't jumping since he did get injured over the weekend.  It was more about getting him out of the ring, working on some uneven ground, and getting in some serious hill work.  There's a pretty steep hill on one side of the jumping field and we spent half of our lesson working on that.  First we walked up and down, working on keeping Theo balanced and on his haunches.  Then we trotted up and down, keeping mi papi nicely balanced.  I was honestly shocked at how well he took the rebalancing half halts and his willingness to sit on his butt on the down hill.  Mister Klutzy actually trotted down the hill in a way that made me completely comfortable after a couple of reps.

After a break and some work at the canter on the rolling part of the field, we had him canter up the hill in a short frame.  He really had to sit his butt down to keep a consistent rhythm up the hill without pulling himself up with his shoulders.

The wild thing was that, instead of shutting down as the intensity went up, a different gear showed up.  After the first two reps cantering up the hill, Theo picked up the canter from the walk and hauled us up the hill with enthusiasm.  The light bulb turned on and the infamous thigh master suddenly realized he was having fun.  I wasn't kicking, I was just balancing and supporting while he cantered around the field and then up the hill.  His shoulders came up and I thought 'holy crap, he feels like an eventer!'.  He had a blast in the jumping field.  I never saw that coming. 

After all of his fun, I hopped off and had him jump the ditch in hand since he has a reputation as being ditchy.  He wanted to stop, but he jumped it both times without too much fuss.  It did make him anxious, but it was manageable and his second jump was perfectly reasonable.  We walked around while the trainer put the adorable pony through his paces.  The gnats were bad and mi papi kept trying to rub on me.  I don't usually allow it, but the bugs were so bad . . .

He rubbed his bridle right off.  One minute I'm walking a pony, the next he's staring at me and I'm holding his bridle.  Fortunately he immediately started eating grass while I tried to stop laughing long enough to get his bridle back on.

After our rather intense ride, Theo got a bath and a massage with liniment.  I suspect he'll be a bit sore in the rump tomorrow.  He really gave me a great ride from a mental perspective.  He didn't fight, he didn't fuss, he just tried his big ol' heart out for me.  He's going to be doing a lot more time on those hills now that I've done them once and have a better idea of how balanced he can be.  Hill work will make all the difference as I ask him to lift up his shoulders.  Considering how much he's changed so far, I can only imagine the booty he's going to have by the time we're stuck in the indoor for the winter.
That big ol', big ol' butt, yeah

It's good to know that I can still be surprised.  I was sure that Theo would be less than keen on doing hill work.  I never thought I'd feel him hit the bridle and carry me forward to something like that.  I don't think Theo is what everyone thought.  At all.

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