After our lesson today, I took him out for a trail ride. When I went by the Ritz, I hopped off, stripped off his tack, and let him have a great roll with some nude sun bathing. It was 54 degrees out in December, I thought some celebration was in order. I was also just pleased as punch with him and thought he needed a special treat.
Mi papi continues to impress with his new work ethic. Trainer A commented that he had his listening ear set for about 75% of the ride today. Today we were working on his coordination using ground poles. Straight ground poles are so last year, now we have angles to make sure Theo is aware of his feet.
So what do you do with ground poles set out like that? You do this.
Poor Theo. Life was not simple today. The poles are all spaced out for a nice trot, encouraging him to reach. The blue line went one hoof-stride-one hoof-stride-one hoof. The two red lines went one hoof-one hoof-stride-one hoof-one hoof-stride-one hoof (bottom to top, opposite if you go top to bottom). The green lines were hard. It should be just one hoof between each of the three poles you go over, but it's a small target. We missed on our first pass and crashed a bit. Mi papi had to do some quick thinking and a bit of jumping to get back out.
It was fantastic for breaking Theo of his habit of assuming he knew what was coming next. After passing through it twice, he assumed he knew what was needed and didn't see any need to pay attention to me anymore. Then I would shift him about four feet over and it was like an all new grid. And then I'd shift him back to center, or to the other side, or curve back around for the figure eight. He softened up beautifully once he realized that he couldn't predict what we were going to do next and he had to stay balanced in both directions. We tossed in a couple of transitions on the arcs of the figure eight and we had his complete attention.
It was also a great exercise for making me more aware of riding his whole body straight. If he popped his neck out or resisted through his ribs (both of which are his latest bending issues), it would run through his whole body and send us off of our line. Then there was crashing because the distances didn't work anymore. It's a great feedback system and I plan to put these poles to good use when I ride on my own tomorrow.
Before I run off and trail ride again because, you know, global warming.