I didn't feel like doing ring work yesterday. I know tons of people love ring work. Love riding in circles and serpentines, leg yielding and half-passing. Personally, as much as I love this dressage stuff (and I do), I'm going a little stir crazy. Our ring is only so big, and you can only fit so much into it. If you set-up for jumps or trot poles, you struggle to have room to work on your circles or serpentines. Half your time is spent moving things around, and you get 3 strides in before you hit the other end (okay, it's not that bad, but I'm just not a ring person).
So yesterday, not at all in the mood to do more ring work with Mr. Moon yet again (I've never done so much in my life), I decided we'd hit the trails. What can we not do out there, that we can do in a ring??
Well for starters, there's no scary ditches full of deep water to freak out about. Excellent start to our ride. : P
I figured "to hell with it", and just kept riding him after his tantrum (and it was a tantrum!). We walked along a couple of fields, over a bridge and wound up in town. The town isn't huge, but has a gas station/grocery store/post-office, a restaurant, large K-6 school, antique store, community centre, curling rink and a lot of houses. New houses as it's a growing suburban town, full of escaped city folks living on their paved country roads.
This becomes apparently when you decide to walk your horse through town.
Now Moon, he's steadfast. Yes, he has small fits when he doesn't want to leap the ditch, but when you NEED him to be your calm and collected buddy, he pulls through.
We strolled down main street, his hooves clopping on the pavement.
People come out of their houses to watch us pass; they point. Some people call their children to come see. I feel a bit like a spectacle, but I AM the one who decided to ride through town. What happened to the days when this was common place? How come we never do this anymore? Shouldn't every horse go easily amongst the people? I really do wish this was a more common sight.
A couple were mowing their lawns are we walked past. The husband called out to the wife, "Check out the horse!", and she rode around the corner on her lawn mower (both were riding) to stare. As Moon and I continued past, they decided to follow...on their lawnmowers!
So we continued through town with two lawnmowers acting as our procession. It was weird. But nice, as I love that people still love the sight of a horse in town, which makes the country a little more country to me. We'll do it again for just that reason.
And for some reason, my silly horse felt THIS was the time to give me his best behaviour yet. In the past when trail riding (which is mainly what we did), he'd be looky, ride with his head fairly high, and just typical Moon off the bit. Yesterday, it seemed like all the lessons and practice finally hit home. Despite the lawnmowers chasing after us...
He stretched out. His neck went HORIZONTAL, lowering the most I've ever seen it while under saddle. He actually made contact with the bit, and I could FEEL his mouth in my hands; even the movement of him chewing. Which he was doing, WITHOUT any gapping.
When he occasionally shook his head or pulled the reins a bit out of my hands so I had to readjust, he'd reach down looking to find contact again!
His walk had so much impulsing and swing to it, that I was beyond pleased! THIS is what we've been searching for, and for some crazy reason, he gives it to me while walking through town?! Strange horse.
I thought "I wonder....", as I decided to try for a halt. His worst transition. I told myself to just stop moving; stop following. P.E.R.F.E.C.T. halt. Did NOTHING with my reins other then stop following the movement of his neck, and he halted beautifully, head low and feet square.
And when I asked for walk again...he kept his head lowered and moved back out on contact!
We practiced 4 more times, he moved and stopped amazingly. We HAVE CONTACT people!!!
: ) Now if only dressage shows were held downtown!!
P.S. I'm convinced his awesome movement is directly correlated to the cute braids I put in his mane, complete with rainbow elastics. Yes, I know it's girly and silly, but I'm still a kid at heart!
P.P.S. Mr. Moon wore his fly sheet last night! I'm hoping he hasn't managed to destroy it or kill himself overnight, since I can't check on him until tonight! Fingers crossed! I need him in one piece!