He doesn't like the bit. Yesterday he didn't say "no," but he had to play with it a long moment to get used to it again (and I'm sure the metal was cold).
This morning, though, he flat out said "no" to it when I jingled it to let him know what my intentions were. He walked to the other side of the fence with slanted ears; but when I just remained quietly, warming the bit under my shirt, without pursuing him, his ears came forward, his eyes grew soft, and he watched me with an interested look. I talked to the cats a little as I stood there, and he took a few steps closer to me again. I turned and said in one of my sweetest voices, "I guess you don't want your cookie then, Joey?"
I don't know if he understood what I said, or it it was my voice or the fact that I hadn't pursued him and forced the bit into his mouth like I now remember I used to do without realizing it; at any rate, he ended up standing quietly (though without slanted ears) by my side. I let him nose the bridle, reminding him what my intentions were, and giving him every opportunity to say "no." But he didn't. He accepted the reins over his head and the chilly bit in his mouth and me on his back. He knew exactly where we were going, too; and without my having to steer him too much, he began his laps around the yard.
I made an observation, too, while I was riding:
Ob. 6: You don't have to exaggerate your movements in the saddle. A horse can feel a fly landing on him; he can definitely feel every one of my "heavy", "jerky" movements.
One of the gifts I received from my parents on Christmas was a DVD with episodes from a television show that is titled "The World of Horses". I'd never heard of it before, but it's really informative, being a show that is all about the different jobs horses have in the world.
After studying the way the barrel racers rode during training on one of the episodes on this DVD, and then noticing how Joey was stiff in his turns/corners, I decided that we should work on becoming supple in our turns while we were just walking laps for exercise. I realized that Joey is already well on his way to having fingertips control on the bit; but even when I exaggerated the leg motions that went with turning, I found him trying to resist me.
But then, I started out in exaggerated motions; I was leaning too far and stiffening up my legs and seat in expectation of his own "bracing" against me. I tried to keep a positive attitude as we turned to walk in the other direction, remembering what I've heard time and time again about suppleness not coming over night.
Suddenly, my attention was turned back to my riding as I realized that I was instinctively but lightly curing Joey around the turns -- and he was responding like a dream! I tried to figure out what he was responding to, and I think the biggest and most helpful difference I found in my absentminded riding from my super-focused riding was that I wasn't leaning my body at all. I also found my seat to be firm, yet relaxed; and I remembered what one Canadian barrel racer had said on my DVD: everything is worked from the center of your saddle.
As I embraced my new discovery in riding, Joey's ears were pointed forward and his stride had more purpose. His turns were very supple, as well.
That ride, at a walk, and simply for exercise, was one of the most beautiful we've had together! ^.^
|A picture I found of us on another ride a couple of years ago. :)|
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PS: I added a couple of quotes that I really liked onto my sidebar. Like them? :)