I love those rides where the horse is energized and willing! Bern taught me a neat little trick last night that really worked on Ava. Ava had decided that the end of the arena was scary. I had just started fighting with her to get her to re-bend around the inside leg while she tried to shy into it.
This version of scared is the “I’m not thrilled with working so hard, ‘Look Ma, Scary stuff I’ve seen a million times before!!'”.
Bern tells me to push her forward, tell the horse “omg, you’re right! Lets GO!”. I lightly put my calves on and boom, we shot forward with big trot strides. I gave a small half halt to re-balance Ava and immediately she was not only forward, but engaged! It was awesome!
I don’t really know why it worked so well, but by golly, it worked!
The main point being that Ava wasn’t really scared of the end of the arena, and she wasn’t going to bolt off with me. Instead, we used her evasion to create more energy. At that point I was able to use the extra energy we’d created to ask her to bring her hind legs up under her. What resulted was a nicely forward horse that was working well over her back. My initial reaction of pulling back and fighting for the correct bend would have made Ava suck back and disengage even more.
We did a change of direction with change of bend, and it was by far the best one we’ve ever done. It was mostly due to the fact that Ava was forward and moving to the hand.
It was a neat idea to use the evasion to get a positive result, rather than fighting against Ava and losing our engagement and relaxation.
After this, we worked on our canter. Bern and I have determined that we’re just going to have to push Ava well past her comfort zone in order to help her become stronger and better balanced. Instead of staying on our circles, I do some more daring (for us) stuff. Like, we do 10 meter circle on the wall, on the short side we head down the center line where we leg yield back to the wall. Another leg yield on the other side, to a 10 meter circle. After a few minutes, her canter quality improves immensely, and she starts actually listening to my seat and aids. Normally, no matter what I do with my seat or reins she takes it as meaning she can quit. She’ll throw herself on the forehand and jam into a trot, while I flail around off balance on top. If I keep her guessing about what’s coming up next, and ask her to do things where she’s forced to hold herself up instead of relying on me, then she does start to create her own balance (instead of using the reins to balance on).