Not much time to write these days as I'm in the throes of finishing my dissertation but had one of those rides yesterday that make you look back at how far your partnership has come.
This was Theo in July of 2015, the earliest trotting picture I can find. It's a screen shot from a video of me trotting him around. For us, this was a good trot. I was happy with it and proud enough of his progress to post it as a progress video.
This was us yesterday, February of 2024 in our lesson with Trainer Z.
That is not the same horse. The horse I rode yesterday was uphill, light, and very powerful. Almost too powerful. Trainer Z was at the stallion inspection in Denmark so Theo got a week off. It was 60* out so I figured he'd be too warm to be sassy. NOPE. He wasn't physically wound up so much as mentally. He was offering behaviors very quickly and acting like a kid at a theme park that wanted to do everything as soon as he arrived. In the interest of not repeating the magnificent capriole he gave me when he boiled over during his canter work a couple weeks ago, we decided to focus on trotting and poles.
Someone was so excited and over trying that he started to offer a passage step at the first pole. Theo has recently started offering passage when we work on increasing collection in the trot so Trainer Z decided today was the day. I knew how to ask and what it should feel like thanks to my lessons on her stallion Muffin. We turned to the poles, I half halted up and dropped the cadence, and mi papi passaged.
Once he realized that bouncing was not only allowed but encouraged? He ate this up. All of his excess energy finally had a place to go. And his passage is huge. I wasn't asking for big, just cadenced in these. These are the smaller passes. His bigger passes almost bounced me out of the tack. Trainer Z was wide eyed when she got a look at just how big he can get in that slow cadence. All of that power we see when he's free lunging never showed up in his extensions. It's been hiding in the passage this whole time.
We also worked his half steps which are starting to look like a piaffe.
No, he'll never go Grand Prix, but these are great tools to make him sit, to add strength, and to give him an outlet for days like yesterday when he couldn't handle his own energy levels. When we were done he was chewing like a fiend and his ears finally relaxed. Instead of spooking in the corners and jigging off the wall, he did the big walk with his back swinging.
He also did his first working half pirouette recently. Another move where he seems to have a natural affinity for it. I keep telling him that if he wants to do Grand Prix, he's got to be consistent in his left to right flying change! I can't do tempis if he botches his footwork. Doing lots of very clean simple changes from left to right seems to be helping him understand how the foot sequence is supposed to go and his new power is making it easy enough that the clean changes are starting to happen. That drop change will probably never fully go away but it's getting better. There really is something going on in that change since he will botch it in the simple change sometimes, its like he can't quite coordinate his feet as well in that direction. It's weird.
My dissertation is due April 5th. If I hit that deadline, I walk the stage May 4th. At that point I am done with school forever and ever. Theo and I have a full dance card of shows this summer to celebrate and to get that Bronze. I'm starting to feel real hope that this time we've got it. Every move except the left to right change is on lock at this point and even that change is weird but happening on the aids. I just need to trust that we've done the work, he's more than ready, and get in the ring to get it done.
After I submit 120 pages about organizational change and the individual's perceptions of artificial intelligence. Gross.