Hubby and Jackal went along for the ride out in the pasture because Jackal is on a new exercise program to lose some weight (you can read more about it in a recent post on my other blog myfarmerlife.blogspot.com). Jackal has to stay off of the asphalt roads, so he's going to spend some time out in the pasture following me and Chrome around hehe. That will get the weight off of him. :D
I rode bareback for twenty minutes. I really wanted to use the saddle, but I was fast losing daylight so I'll use it next time. I went to a dressage clinic over the weekend (one reason I didn't ride and also because it was COLD) and it was soooooooo nice being around horse people again. Man I miss it out there (I used to work and take lessons at that dressage stable). One of my friends has a six year old Haflinger mare (she is GORGEOUS!) that was used as a trail horse and driving horse, so she's new to dressage. The cool thing is everything they worked on was SO relevant to me and Chrome, so I learned a lot. :D
The number one thing I need to work on with Chrome is FORWARD!!! He is so lazy. The crazy thing is he's super eager to pick up a trot, but he doesn't know how to move more forward within the gaits and his walk is super lazy. I didn't work on that much tonight though because I was bareback and it is muddy (very slick) outside.
What I did realize is that I'm still riding him like a baby horse!! When the clinician said to ride a baby horse like a grown horse it just clicked for me. One of the biggest things is steering. I've still been riding Chrome with a open, leading rein instead of just squeezing my fist like with a trained dressage horse. I never even gave him the chance to see if he would respond to the more refined cue. Not to mention the open leading rein has my elbows a mile from my side and my hand turning flat instead of thumbs up. Yeah I have some bad habits to break asap!!
So for this ride I picked up a little more contact than I normally use with him and worked on keeping my elbows glued to my side and my thumbs up. I also worked on sitting tall and engaging my core so I don't fall forward if he trips or stops suddenly (that was a reoccurring theme in the clinic hehe). He responded SO well to the quieter cues to turn, even responding just to a squeeze from my fist. Sometimes when he would get locked in his jaw or neck I would have to bring his head around too far, but I tried to do it without moving my hand two feet out to the side. It worked great. We obviously need a lot more work and I think having a more active walk will help us a lot with our steering. The other thing I realized is that the open leading rein was causing him to fall out through his outside shoulder really bad! So I did some practice catching his shoulder with the outside rein and a couple of times he got it right. I was so excited! We need a lot more work moving those shoulders around, but he really showed me tonight that he's super, super, super smart and will learn this stuff really quick I think. :D Obviously I'm going to take it slow so I don't overwhelm his baby brain..... wait he turns five in May.... I guess he isn't really a baby anymore lol. I have to start thinking of him as an adult horse, but it's so hard!
Anyway I only trotted a couple of times just to see how he was responding (immediately off of a light calf squeeze and vocal cue yay!!), but mostly kept everything at a walk since it is very slick out. Along with the walking I also worked on him stopping and standing still. He ACED that! Lazy boy lol. I'm looking forward to working on grown up dressage horse stuff with him hehe. Let's all keep our fingers for spring weather and no more of this freezing cold, super windy crap we've been having. Night guys!