Ahh the joys of the 4 yr old horse.
We knew it was coming, just a matter of time.
Yesterday, my trainer came to the barn to give lessons, and due to some schedule additions, I opted to give my slot up to someone and have trainer ride Ben prior to the lessons starting. I was also able to make it up in time to see him go.
Initially I thought I should ride -but then I opted out because i havent seen him go, and given his recent naughty streak, I wanted to see what he'd throw at the trainer and how she dealt with it. I also wanted him to learn from the best- and well, that just isn't me.
The majority of the correcting was actually done at the walk. I told trainer what he was doing with me - twirling his head, being snarky about transitions, hard to keep together, feeling really behind my leg, etc. She said I was right, but that he wasn't just behind my leg, he was behind every aid. She said lots of young horses will start to test the aids, and that the best way to fix it is at the walk.
And so walk she did. Not just any walk. She made him accountable for walking with energy without her constantly nagging him with the leg (aka the opposite of what I am prone to doing). She also established a light but low contact. From there, she did transitions from walk to halt and halt up to walk. At first, Ben just wouldnt do it. Fussy into the down, and would go backwards when asked to walk from halt. A few leg corrections and suddenly he was much swingier, his halts were square with his legs underneath him. He stopped tossing his face everywhere, and settled.
Once she got 4 good ones, she proceeded with the trot and canter work, and it was beautiful. She worked on doing some small-to-large circles, transitions from walk to trot, trot to canter, walk to canter. He was totally on the aids and at attention yet relaxed and moving so beautifully. Once done with that, she went back to walk to see if she had him still. She did. So then she did some beginning lateral movements at the walk, just teaching him how to move his front end around in a turn-on- haunches.
After a long cool out on a loose rein, I took him to the washrack and hosed him down good, and also put some sore no more poultice on his legs, just as a little extra treatment.
It was amazing, and enlightening. I clearly have to get my ish together. But I feel like I am now empowered with new knowledge and I have gotten the reminder I clearly needed.
Ben has the day off today but Friday we're back on. I do have to get him out of the arena a bit so hopefully the weather will cooperate!