I really did get super lucky with Danny. He really is a GOOD boy. He's talented.... I've had more than two trainers tell me he's quite lovely and quite capable and can take me far. He's kind, he's fun, he's goofy, and he's SOOOO easy! Seriously... for someone who has only had trained horses and has never done a baby.... he's so easy! I'm so blessed.
Today we had our lesson with Beth. She said that we needed to fix some holes in his training. Ha! He's had so little training and there's already holes. Sigh.. ;) But I knew that. And it's my fault. It's hard to not baby him because he's a baby but also not push him too much because he is a baby. But it is time to start upping the ante. Not with stuff like jumping courses (or really anything else until he's at least 4!), or going on the bit necessarily, but.. with stuff like learning balance and straightness. He's learned the aids and he steers, stops and has a go. Now we need to start finessing it.
Todays lesson was working a lot at the canter. Oooohhhh... that's hard work! We warmed him up and then Beth put down a single pole on a circle. She wanted me to start off by trotting him on the circle and letting him get over the pole. I wasn't supposed to help him by adjusting him so his striding was perfect, but to ride the trot. And in riding the trot we were focusing on straightness and connection. I was to take an actual connection and keep it. No matter where his head went or what it did, I just followed with a steady connection. He didn't have to go "on the bit" or be "in a frame". And quite frankly, his head could be up or down or in the middle. But it had to be straight. And sometimes that meant I had to counterbend him and sometimes it meant I had to flex him to the inside. Going to the left I really had to remember to bring my left elbow back and keep the inside connection. Going to the right, I just had to remember to keep my elbows elastic. It was nice though because he actually was fine with the connection and when I got his head between his shoulders with an even steady connection, his balance was soooooo much better and he almost automatically fell into the proper place with the rest of his body. Yay!!!
Once we got the trot we moved pretty quickly to the canter. It took a few tries but baby boy was figuring it out! He really is a smarty pants. We got some nice work and oh man!!! That canter!!! That canter that is so lovely when he's not put together gets ever nicer when it is! There were some nice moments of him actually sitting down in the hind end and lifting in his shoulder and wither and......*squeals!!!!!* it was nice!!
Of course there were some efforts to avoid the hard work too. He's a super star but he's not dumb. We had to work really hard to get him to counterbend tracking right. Then going left, when he was starting to figure out that it was hard work, he then threw his shoulders to the right and leap off the circle. The first time he swapped leads because he had to skip over the pole. Fair enough. But then he realized "Oh hey...... I can get out of if this way" and tried a few times just for fun. But once I got him back on track he quit trying. Towards the end he started to get tired. And I know because when he's tired he curls his head down and tries to hide behind his knees practically. So we pushed him for two more circles just to build his strength and get through it and we let him quit. Beth mentioned that when he does that (more so when he does it just to do it rather than when he's tired) to not throw away the connection, but to keep the rein contact and just kick him forward. She said if I throw the connection away he'll learn that by doing that he gets rewarded with no connection. Aha! Good to know. And then when I made him stay in front of my leg and kicked him into the connection he tried another tactic. He started running and almost holding the bit. Silly boy. Of course he's so responsive to my seat that I was able to slow him down. Sneaky little boy.
But really.. he was REALLY good today and we got some lovely work. That head tilt of his is disappearing. He almost seemed glad to have a connection. "Finally lady.... jeez!". :)
It was so exciting I didn't really get any pictures, but he was most handsome and proud of himself. :)