You know you're starting to make real changes in a horse when the teenagers that would previously dodge having anything to do with him start talking about how much he's changed. Miss Thang's rider stopped to give Theo a pat and said 'oh, wow, look at that neck!'. A different teen was watching him work today and said 'wow, he's just fancy now!'. His former owner's husband commented on how much muscle he's picked up. Everyone was surprised when Theo came cantering off of the trail to cut through the Ritz with his ears up and absolutely no kicking (the very last spike on the chart).
400 mpm baby! Yeah, I was surprised, too. He hit his stride while we were out and was very happy to keep cantering with no management from me. The stronger and more experienced he gets with uneven ground, the less I have to manage his every step. We had just one serious trip once we were out on the trails and he recovered nicely. He's still a bit more pokey going away from home, but we had a fantastic, willing canter down the rail bed on the way home. I was able to get up off his back in a half seat, keep my reins short, and just enjoy the beautiful spring day while he powered along with pricked ears.
I take back everything I said about him not being fit enough. I still didn't really get his heart rate up today. I guess I'm going to have to branch out and find more places to play if I want to truly open him up or do hill work to get his heart rate up into the 60 - 70% range. I don't think I can get much higher than 400 mpm on the rail bed without endangering walkers. You can see on the speed where we had to turn around or stop to let people pass by.
All of my work is paying off, though. I did some ring work before I headed out to hit the trails and Trainer R saw me working the canter. Her exact words were 'his canter is sweet, three beats and everything!'. The best part was that I wasn't kicking, nagging, or begging. I was just sitting there, working on keeping my keister in the saddle for all three of those beats. She's always razzed us on his canter and it's tendency to go four beat, so it was fantastic to hear that. We worked the counter canter in both directions and his simple changes on a four loop serpentine. I really, really think he'll be ready to debut First level this year. We'll do Training for the championships, but I expect to knock off the First level scores I still need.
On Monday we have meetings to lay out plans for our first couple of shows. Entries open on the 28th. The show season is coming up very, very fast all of a sudden. I still need to go shopping for white breeches. I don't wanna, but if I'm going to play with the big kids, I need to look the part. White breeches, stock tie, matching spur straps, the whole bit. Theo's already set with two show pads, a saddle, bridle, and girth. Time for me to catch up with his wardrobe.
Has anyone else seen the previews of the PS of Sweden spring collection? I'm going to be so broke! There's a reason I don't have nearly as nice of a wardrobe as my horse.