I had a great ride this weekend. Not because my horse was especially good, she was the same as always, but because I finally trusted her, and let go.
Now a lot of you are going to get why that is such a big deal but not everyone. So I have to set up the story a bit so you understand how it happened, and why it was so special. First, understand I am approaching 50 with warp speed, I have a bum leg, the legacy of a spoiled TB broodie who fractured it, and I realized some time ago I don't bounce like I used to. I have a 21 year old Tennessee Walking Horse mare, that I bred, trained and showed, she is a versatility champ. She is also one of the most forward horses I have ever ridden. At one time I reveled in this, my friends and I blasting through the hunt trails at full gallop, jumping everything in sight. BUT I now am not in shape, and not so fond of high speeds and higher jumps. So I spend a lot of time holding my mare back. She is well schooled, and accepts this for the most part, but frustration will get the better of her, esp since lately I have spent a lot of time baby sitting greenies and newbies on the trail. So she gets faster, I take hold, she starts fretting and jigging, it goes downhill from there. Lately, when I do let her go, she explodes in a hard gallop, which with my noodle legs I find hard to stay on.
Fast forward to friday, July 4th. We decide a trail ride is in order for our fourth, and I decided instead of a quickie schooling of my 17+ hand Perch gelding, I'll take him on the ride. The next day I have a beginner coming to look at him, so I figure I should get him out and make sure he will move. We had used him for beginners to ride on the trail, and he was very good, but very slow, and tended to stall out and stop. I saddle him up, and realize even with my 3 step mounting block, he is so tall I can't get my foot in the stirrup! My hubby has to help. I hop up there, grab my dressage whip, and off we go. Well, sort of. Snails are passing us on the road, and the big guy stops several times to look at horses in pastures, the grass, or else just because he forgot what we were doing. I use legs, voice and dressage whip to enforce the forward momentum. Meanwhile my hubby on his Missouri Foxtrotter is making loops back and forth, circling, even my daughters QH, usually the last in the line up is having to slow down for us. We finally got to the park after about 20 min (normally a 10 minute trip) and my horse completely stalled halfway across the cross country course. By then, I was exhausted! I had never had to use leg so much in my life. I was urging him on, using seat, legs, weight, everything. I finally got him going, and got him into a trot! He them procceded to try to crowhop and throw a fit, which I pushed him through and up the hill. (Yay me!) But then it seems like a light bulb went off in his brain. If the human squeezes with her leg, and I stand there, she keeps squeezing, then kicking, then swats me with the crop. But if I move forward, she stops and says good boy. If she squeezes and says TROT and I trot, she says good boy and scratches my neck, and I catch up with my buddies. Ding! the bell went off. We worked on these concepts the whole ride, over 2 hours to do a loop which usually takes 1, LOL! The next day, I hop on him for the beginner who was horse hunting, and not only was he super, sweet and willing, he walked, trotted and cantered! They loved him.
The next day the 3 of us (hubby, me and daughter) decide to go on one of our favorite rides. Woods, river crossings, and lunch at a local dive on the trail. As we are tacking up, I decided today, I am not going to hang on my girls mouth, no matter what. After fighting to keep the draftie going, I was going to really appreciate my well schooled forward girl. We head off down the trail, the MFT and TWH gaiting along, QH jogging behind, and we had a wonderful ride. On the way back, we decided to take a trail where we could canter for quite a distance, then canter up a hill to a meadow. Normally I get up in 2 point and let my girl go. I just don't have the strength to keep my seat on her and control the canter. But throughout the day, I have had this incredible seat, no trouble keeping my legs in position, so I decide I will sit the canter, keep my leg on, and keep the pace nice and relaxed. So I ask for a canter, and work to control the pace with my seat and body. No problem, we have a lovely long canter, and when I ask for a drop to a walk, I just shift my weight back, and my girl happily drops to a walk. We get back to the trailer tired (did about 10 miles), but with very happy horses. All because I 'threw the reins at my horse' and let her go.
It was my best ride ever. :-)