Friday we rode inside again. It was another one of those blustery and chilly days that would have been fine to ride outside, but when you’ve got the empty indoor arena right there, why not?
And it was a fun ride. Bear was super soft from the beginning. He had these wonderfully collected backs and would go in either direction with no problem. The indoor still had some barrels set up in the middle and we backed quite a few nice circles around them.
Of course we had our things to work on, too. Staying on the rail going left was again a problem. Particularly in one spot. I think what was happening was that we both knew it was a bad spot, so I was harder on him with my legs and Bear was ready for me to be hard on him. Robin suggested a lighter but steadier correction with only the rein. I had been so focused on less rein and more leg that I think I was overdoing it. A few laps of working with the rein changed things up very nicely.
Then we moved into some trotting, which was awesome. He was extremely relaxed and had that happy Bear face going on. The interesting thing about the trot was how much I could vary our speed without any use of the reins. I’ve known this in principal, but if Bear wasn’t really relaxed it wouldn’t always work. Yesterday it happened somewhat accidentally. Initially the trot was so slow I was sitting it, then I started posting a little, and before I knew it we were flying around the arena in a very smooth and fast trot. The only other times we’ve trotted that fast were due to agitation. At one point Bear was feeling frisky and wanted to move into the lope and I just asked for a soft feel so he’d stay in the trot. He did, but thinking of the lope momentarily put us into the jack hammer trot. It was amazing to feel how different that was from the smooth trotting we had just been doing. But after only a few strides we got back with one another and things felt great again.
We were having so much fun that I wanted to do a little loping. When we got to the barn I was really tired (typical end of the week tiredness), and I didn’t think I’d ride very long or fast, but things were going so well I guess it woke me up. So we started cruising around at the lope, and it was really great. I was able to keep the reins so loose they were flapping around. Bear was happy to stay back on his haunches and listen to my legs. I even spent a little time directing him into smaller and then larger circles. It was a fun challenge for both of us. We kept it up long enough that he was getting a little sweaty and tired, but he never dropped the gait. I love when he gets like this because I know I can just shift my seat and he’ll stop hard and fast. Sure enough he did. I was so ready to stick the stop, too, but he slammed into the ground so hard my butt still popped up off the saddle. At least I didn’t tip forward like I sometimes do. I guess I just need to keep getting used to these hard stops.