Rags is developing into a teenager horse in some ways. Megan Elphick, whose YouTube channel I visit regularly, commented on training horses that they go through a stage when they begin to think they know how to do stuff and the rider is superfluous except as a passenger. They’ve learned some basic dressage, and they’ve learned to jump a few fences (low fences) and now they’re ready to take on whatever they like and no, they *don’t* need to go where they’re told to go, at whatever speed the rider finds safe and effective….they can rush a fence, or just ignore it…etc.
It’s a predictable phase of training, she commented in one video of Jemelia (Jam-bam) being difficult. Well…Ragtime is apparently doing his mild negative form of that. From having a quiet mouth, he’s started messing with the bit, tossing his head, doing quarter whirls to try to convince me he has to go back home right away, etc. , bringing his head around to let me know he thinks this is the place to give him a cookie. Since in between episodes of this, he is going forward willingly and briskly, his walk even in tempo, his ears forward (his happy position), and palpation of his back post-ride shows no sore areas…I think he’s just feeling confident enough to want to run the whole show every now and then. Usually after a long, heart-felt, plaintive-and-commanding whinny from Tigger insisting he come back, or when we approach any place he ever got a cookie before.
Yesterday, we covered more ground faster (some faster) as I rode him up the east side of the dry woods to the fencerow trees there and then back along the same trail to the SE corner of the dry woods, across the front of the woods and then down Center Walk to Diagonal, across the dry creek, and onto the Gully Trail. We’ve been going up the “outside” of that end of the place and coming back by the Gully Trail, but we were a little later starting than the previous days, so I wanted to get through the turns while there was still good light on them.
Aside from several attempts to go back, or just stop, and have a little discussion of who’s in charge here (one that required me to haul his head around quite firmly) it was a pleasant and fun ride, and he seemed to be fine with it the rest of the time. We circled Fort Cedar at the south end of the Gully Trail, and instead of turning left at the next intersection to go into the West Woods and then up to Owl Pavilion, I judged it better to head on back, and turned right into the N/S “Inside West Fence” trail. The one that weaves through large Ashe junipers on a smooth dirt trail. When we turned the NW corner alongside the north fence, he knew for sure we were headed home. No more stopping, trying to beg a cookie, wanting to turn on another trail or go back the way we’d just been.
Meantime, having watched a lesson one of the English riders I sorta-not-officially follow on YouTube in a dressage lesson, I was trying to correct some of the things I know I need to work on in my own riding, doing what Cameron told Tina to do. Second-hand training is educational…each of the four women has a different-shaped body, they’re using different coaches right now, and their horses are all different. You can find them, if you’re that interested, at “Elphick Event Ponies” (Megan Elphick), “Life on the Left Rein” (Tina Wallace), “EMD Eventing” (Emily Durston) and “Footluce Eventing” (Lucy Robinson). They’re an interesting group; they all ride at a far more advanced level than I do now…somewhat more advanced than I did at my best…and I’ve learned a lot from them. Besides getting to see beautiful English scenery in different parts of that country (Lucy lives near Norfolk, Tina and Em are in Cornwall, and Megan is in Worcestershire.)
Once we were on Diagonal, on the way back up to Center Walk, he wanted to trot, and I encouraged this (good trail to do it on, slightly up-slope) and after sitting a few strides started posting. He opened his trot a little (a good sign) and we trotted over half the length of Diagonal with me posting, continuing onto Center Walk, and then (when I felt his rhythm falter slightly) came down to walk. We finished the ride the usual way and I was a very happy rider. This morning, my neck, back, and legs told me that maybe posting that far wasn’t the greatest of ideas…? I responded that it was good pain and they should agree to loosen up quickly so we could do it again today. It was the first time I’ve posted Rags’ trot that it felt “right” and I’m eager to build up my posting muscles again.
Meanwhile, the thermostat on the HVAC went wonky again, and the service guy will be out here again Monday…R- tried putting in new batteries but it didn’t respond at all, so I’m glad we’re having moderate temps this weekend. Also, surveyors were out on the land just north of us–R- saw them when he was walking the north fence. I so hope whoever’s buying it will leave the fencerow and the big trees there.