I often struggle with working "outside the box" with Moon. Not because I have no creative ideas of things to do with him, but rather I have this silly irrational feeling that I must stick to the training program. And NOT DEVIATE FROM IT AT ALL IN THE SLIGHTEST.
Which is truly silly. The nicest part of owning a horse is supposed to be that you can train it how you want. Yes, it's important to seek the advice and coaching of professionals, but at the end of the day, you do as you please.
Today after a warm up and a bunch of boring circles, figure 8's, leg yields and serpentines, I was exasperated. Moon was lethargic which meant I spent most of my time nagging him to keep moving. Not wanting to nag, I started bumping him with my legs. Which while he doesn't enjoy, only yields an increase in speed for a few steps, a sour look from him and a return to a laxidaze pace. Start to end, the cold weather makes him stiff, we're bored of trotting freakin' circles and we NEED to find a way to keep it interesting.
My first decision was to try doing some "Reverse Demi Voltes" that Kiirsten described in her recent post. In all seriousness, the name sounds like a ballerina move and Moon and I are NOT ballerinas (nobody point out the two pairs of ballet shoes and matching leotard in my closet...). Instead, I shall call them "Getting Moon's big ol'butt to the other side of the circle while still going forward".
I won't say we were successful. To be honest, I haven't a clue what we were doing. I watched the video, I went out there, and I gave my horse a bunch of aids that I thought might work. With no mirrors in the arena, no video camera on hand and no one watching, I know my horse ended up facing the other direction. So I'll say it counts ; )
Then I figured, why not try the side pass? And thought I'd put him in front of a wall to keep him from moving forward or back. Pretty sure this is NOT how the move is taught, but I just wanted to be free to mess around with my horse and experiment. In the end, I believe I taught him the horse version of the breakdance move "the worm". Front moved over, hind moved over. Front, hind. If we could do them at the same time, we'd be side passing. But we didn't. In hindsight, I think we did our first steps of turn-on-the-haunch...
After our work on the worm, we did some leg yielding. We don't look like this woman (read her books, she's a dressage goddess), but I think he's REALLY starting to get it. But of course, no real way to know.
Why do I keep complaining about that? Because I misplaced my video camera card and the internal memory only stores 30 seconds. And it's an HD camera so I need a giant fast card that's normally pretty expensive. So today I found one on sale on ebay and bought it. Which means I'm eagerly awaiting the wonderful republic of Hong Kong to ship it to me, so I can actually tell if we're making any progress or if I've taken to imagining things for the pure sake of preventing myself from selling my dressage saddle and teaching Moon how to pull a muck cart (that's humor, in truth I won't quit, but I do need to find proof that our hard work is actually working. And the coach doesn't count. I pay her to tell me I'm doing good ; ) ).
What next? Why don't we attempt the canter? W has been taking it slow and really helping us build muscle and balance. I conceed, Moon and I love to run. And it's kinda annoying not to be able to do so in the indoor. So I've taken it upon myself to practice a circle or two every ride. The key for me, is not letting him rush. When he does, I recollect him, slow him down and ask again. We were able to depart the canter twice of the three times I asked, but he REALLY lacks balance. I'm confident he has a lot of the muscle needed, but I think he just doesn't know how to balance himself with a rider on a circle. Little steps.
By this point, he was done learning. And bored. I admit, I was tired of the circles too. So I set up a jump. And raised it from last week. It wasn't high, but it was higher. Instantly he was more alert and moved at a better pace. I almost think his bending and corners improved too...
The first time, he ran right in to it. I wonder if a pale brown pole in the sand is kinda hard to see...
After his first smack, he knocked it every time through. Still not sure if seeing it had an impact on his performance, but regardless I think we had fun. It was different, something new to do, and we could still focus on being soft and supple. And now I want to do it again.
Tomorrow for my lesson I'm gonna ask W if we could add some poles or something new to our lessons. We just need a change to keep it challenging and engaging for us both.
P.S. Since the snowfall, Mr. Moon's been wearing his blanket...which has made him CRAZY shiny.
P.P.S. So far, loving the Schnieder's Saddlery Blanket, and so's the barn owners. Belly band is UBER nice and well constructed/safe. So far durable, warm and just well made.
P.P.P.S. I promise pictures tomorrow! Camera batteries were dead!