So I have a terrible problem with being competitive... I don't like it when I'm not up there with the best. Part of my perception on how well things went on Saturday was based on the fact that I was comparing my horse to the girl (looked like a trainer to me) who was loping perfect circles in a nice frame with her young but perfectly behave horse. Comparing never get you anywhere, and is particularly dangerous when comparing apples to oranges!
Its the same thing at class every week! I end up evaluating our night not based on how we are progressing, but how we did compared to the other horses. Two horses have limited training and are working at their own paces, one is in there for retraining because she didn't come along very well the first time, and one is a lazy off-the-track thoroughbred. Usually the tb is the closest competition, and her owner is one of the better riders so she does really well. The retrain project knows some of it already so it comes easily, for example she's quietly jogging around on the rail while my beast is zig-zagging through traffic, but on other things little Miss Retrain copes an attitude and refuses to progress much. Bear knows certain things better than the other horses, he learns really quickly, but he's a total nut job for the first 10 minutes of every class and tends to rush through things no matter what.
Tonight was our night! Our sole lesson for the class was to work on a bridge. Bear loves bridges! I think he sometimes even tries to make more noise on them than necessary. But when someone else went over it and made the noise he spooked and whirled around and was generally trying his best to be silly. We walked right over it a few minutes later while warming up, and he thought it was just fine. So we took it from all directions, and included poles and stopped with his front feet on, then with all four feet, and most of the rest of the night we stood around and walked everyone else fail to get their horse over it! Crazy...
Other than that we spent the time working on some more consistent trotting. He went we to the left, and I really felt like he was going forward and balancing off my inside leg. When we went to the right, he just kept diving in, and would move out as well. We did get a nice relaxed sitting trot in at the end and he started to slow down and lower his head. Oh! The bit was a huge success! Less head tossing, much better response to me asking him to bend to the inside, or follow his nose around the circle. Tonight he stopped really well off my seat, and I really only had to think walk and breath out and he relaxed into a walk! Yeah! That's to say he did all this after bolting forward and needing some one rein stops several times during the first couple laps around the arena! Silly Bear, I lunge but he still takes a couple warm up laps.
I'm hoping to sneak out to ride at lunch tomorrow, but that will greatly depend on how quickly I get a few projects done. The pasture is dry enough now that I can at least ride and trot in the upper part. So I can really work on him going where I want him to at the trot instead of wiggling about or cutting corners. With that many people in the arena I feel limited to just little circles and the rail. It will be nice to do some work on more of a twenty meter circle, and the random patterns around the topography of the pasture. The plan for Saturday is to hit the trail. Its time to tackle some hill work under saddle, and he'll be glad to get out of the arena.