This last weekend I arrived at Westworld with Jayden to compete at the Spring Fling horse show. I was excited to be there and test out some of what I'd been working on at home with him. Latelly we had really been addressing his physical fitness and I could feel the difference in his collection when I would ride him.
Friday was an amazing day! I felt our communication was superb...everything I asked he was right there for me. When I'd ask for more drive and push with his hind end (for the BIG trot) he would engage and up his RPM's (as I call it) without increasing his speed. He was so good in fact we quit after only 20 minutes under saddle - that's the reward as I don't believe in drilling something so much that the horse gets frustrated and then you can't quit on a good note. Knowing when to quit is half the battle.
Saturday dawned dark and rainy. Although we were showing undercover, it was cold and windy/rainy and downright unpleasant. Becuase we were all compressed into one arena for warm-up and showing, I had a hard time finding a place to do some on-line pattern work with him. Our favorite warm-up at the shows is the Falling Leaf. Usually when he starts he's licking his lips and his tongue comes way out of his mouth - by the time we are done he's relaxed, confidant and doesn't want to move his feet much.
That day however I was only able to play with him for about 20 minutes and although his feet were moving slower (than when we started), his brain was still quite active - he struck me then as more of a Left Extrovert than the Introvert he is at home.
I made a mental note of that and decided he was acting like a partner and it was time to get on and warm him up. The warm up went well...if I felt him brace or tense AT ALL up I just went right back to what I know relaxes him mentally and the physical brace would disappear.
Just before our turn to do the pattern I mentally ran through each thing I would ask of him and how I was going to do it. I call it riding the pattern in my head. It helps me focus so that when I actually do it, it's like I've already done it. Jayden was WONDERFUL! His transitions were great, he stayed with me mentally, emotionally and physcially right through the pattern. The end result was a 6th place placing out of 14 horses. I was so proud of him!
In case you haven't already seen it, I just recently watched the April Savvy Club DVD where Linda shows an extrovert how to get the most from her introverted horse. On Sunday when I warmed him up with Falling Leaf pattern I changed my energy to match some of what I saw on the DVD and suddenly I had Jayden offering to do more than he usually does. THAT WAS GREAT!