After my less than ideal lesson with the fabulous Tally-Ho left me in tears, I was excited to ride my Alfie today.
First step – the mounting block. For those of you keeping score, Alfie’s streak of standing at the block ended 2 weeks ago. Last weekend, my trainer and I worked with him again on the mounting block issue. As I approached the block, my trainer already inside the arena, I lined up my boy, told him to stand like a statue as I climbed the mounting block steps. I took the reins, and swung my right leg over him and look at that, he stood. Score one for me!
During our warmup, I noticed that Alfie had more pep in his step. He seemed eager to work, a pleasant site to see. We worked on serpentine exercises, leg yielding and circles on his stiffer side. At one point I was trying to leg yield him between 2 cones but because his walk was so forward I was having trouble with my leg position. My trainer and I have an understanding when it comes to Alfie being forward. It happens so seldom, so when he wants to move, we don’t argue, we go with it. So a quick change of pace and trotting off we go.
It’s been a few lessons since I trotted with any sort of purpose with Alfie. The arena footing was recently redone which is wonderful, but given Alfie’s tendon and foot issues, I wanted to make sure he got used to the softer thicker footing before asking him to trot. Yeah, I’m that protective of him.
Today, Alfie trotted with a beautiful forward fluid motion. He engaged his back end (he used his big booty), his body position was rounded (dressage form) and he seeked the contact with the bit (the telephone to my reins). As we trotted around not only the long side of the arena, but on the curves as well, my heart and soul were instantly filled with joy. Holy cow. Look at us go. Look at the strength, the power and the confidence we both have.
After we trotted, we walked, his walk, the most forward walk he’s ever had. It took 1 year and 9 months to get this former western pleasure horse to transform into an English horse – it took that long for me to transform as well – but today, like a puzzle, all the pieces fit together.
I know I’ve mentioned before, slow and steady wins the race every time for me. When I try to rush anything, it backfires. The same is true for Alfie. He is a slow and steady kind of horse. He learns and grows at his own pace. Sure, it took almost 2 years to accomplish this but you know what…who cares? Honestly, who cares how long something like this takes. Not only did both of us learn something new, but in this time our bond, trust and love of each other grew.
People get into horses for all different reasons. People have different goals and timetables. What I hope and wish for the people who are in a rush, or who think just because they can walk, trot, canter, jump 5 foot fences, run around barrels at ridiculous speed – all of that is great, but without taking the time to develop trust, understanding of your horse and their feelings, you lose the partnership and it suddenly becomes all about you. It’s not about you at all, it’s about both of you.❤️🐴