The human is pretty cute, too.
Hubby dropped by to meet me for dinner after my ride and got to meet post ride endorphin fueled Theo.
Trainer Z returned for our lesson on how to be big kid dressage riders. She had a lesson on her own young horse recently and it reminded her of me and Theo. Her young horse has changed dramatically since the last time she took him somewhere and sometimes she forgets what horse she has now. That made her think of me and all the years I spent correcting. Okay, great, you got it corrected. Now ride the nice horse you made. Get your hands in where they belong, he doesn't need you to ride wide anymore. Keep him in balance, he's ready for it. Just go for it.
It's totally accurate and I told her point blank that I feel like I'm still waiting for permission to ride him like a big boy dressage horse. She said 'you have permission' and off we went. Contact is easy, flexion is easy, now make his poll the highest point and keep him there. He doesn't need to come out of it every two laps, he's totally happy to stay right there. We started out with some basic movements to make sure he was right up in front of my leg. She commented how good he looked in his body and I mentioned his massage. Apparently it worked a treat because he was happily using the booty and did not protest his counter canter.
Once he was bombing around in front of my leg, we ran through the Second 1 test. In the small arena. Those movements come up fast when you have 20 less meters to work with! But we knocked through it with no major issues, I sat the trot the whole time without trouble, and Trainer Z took notes on specific spots where we need to focus (straight halts, looking at you). Having all new test patterns made Theo spicy since he knows when we're doing a test but he didn't know what to expect. Those medium canters got a bit fiery. We worked on my geometry (aim before the letter, not at it) and not letting go of the contact just because I'm thinking about getting somewhere in a pattern.
Theo gave me some lovely moments were he really lifted up his front end. Trainer Z hopped on for a minute to get a feel of what he's like.
My phone was being dumb, but hey, video! At least a few seconds.
Two big takeaways from her ride on him. First, that moment where I half halt, he comes up, and he gets light? That's good, I want that, stay there as long I can. He actually rides very light once he's in collection and it's quite lovely to ride. He'll be able to hold on to it longer and longer as we go, but he's not overly light like I thought he was. She was surprised he started offering it so quickly, but that's a good sign! She also loved that when I gave him little taps with the whip to sharpen him up for a canter depart, he started to snap his hind legs. That's the start of piaffe. Well, okay then.
The second was that I'm asking for the canter wrong. He thinks it's off the outside leg. He needs to really understand that it's off the inside leg. Kind of a scoop with my inside hip while letting him jump through the inside rein. I thought he was cantering off the inside leg, but nope. When she got on, he started swinging his haunches and she couldn't get the transition. Once she got it, she threw me back on to coach me through it. Ohhhhhhh. That'll take awhile, but Theo was happy to play along.
Between the test riding, swapping riders, and general tom foolery, we worked for about 90 minutes. Theo was a total trooper, I stuffed so many cookies in him. The feedback I got is that Second 1 is an easy test for him and won't be any problem. Good one to practice my stage fright since Theo certainly won't be stressing. She asked if I was qualifying for regionals and I said yes, but at First. I got such a weird look, but in adult ammy land, you need a totally ready Second level horse to be competitive at First. And while Theo isn't fancy dancy or flouncey bouncey (her words), he's very correct and that will take us far.
I am 100% okay with this being his new trot, he's actually got shoulders!
I've got lots of homework to work on, but it's getting to be more than just 'go forward'. I've done my homework, when I put my leg on I get a reaction. Now I get to work on my geometry and remembering how to ride when I have to steer. Because I can't always do both at the same time.
I need the large arena. Is it spring yet?