The rain has come back to the PNW in full force. It has been absolutely lashing out there. In an effort to keep our indoor rides somewhat interesting, I introduced a pole yesterday. Ben has lots of experience with trot poles - in fact, they have been key in helping Ben develop a trot AND canter (trot in canter out has done wonders for the transition and the quality of canter).
However, yesterday, I was a bit lazy and took out only 1 pole. My intention was to walk and trot over it, just keep things interesting, no big deal. Ben was stuck inside all day so I knew our warm up would take longer. We did a long warm up walk on a loose rein, and then started doing some trot work, which was, I'll admit painful. I quickly transitioned to adding canter in, with the hopes that it would loosen him up enough to get some better quality trot.
That it did, but then something else happened. Each time I had gotten down to where the pole was, I either walked or trotted over it, then cantered after. Things were getting marginally better, but nothing amazing to speak of. Then I decided, what the hell, let's mix it up a bit. I asked Ben to canter approaching the pole...knowing full well this could be disastrous. But his approach felt good, I could feel him looking and acknowledging that the pole was there. And just like that, he hopped over it at the canter. It wasn't a jump per se, but there was an obvious jump injected into the stride, and then for a few strides after.
Whoa, that felt really nice! Must do again. So we played with it, lots of praise and walk breaks and gushing all over him for a job well done. Not every attempt was great, but there were way more good than bad. His canter, for the indoor, felt really great! It was slower, balanced, 3 beat, and jumpier than ever. He also seemed to really enjoy his new found skill.
And, for the first time, he actually broke a bit of a sweat, haha. We had a long cool out of hand walking and lots of stretches (of the carrot variety) afterwards.
So, yay! While a lot of the ride felt really sloppy and icky in the beginning, we ended up both happy and in a good place. As always, lots to clean up, it is the never-ending story with us!
In other news, his vet appointment has been scheduled for next week. My goal is to gain a realistic picture of what Ben can/should be doing as well as having the peace of mind that I'm not causing undue pain and suffering to my horse who gives me his soul each and every day with no complaint. I'm guessing we'll be injecting something, but I'm not sure what. I'm terrified that he'll find something so horrible that will either limit Ben's capacity to continue his training, or worse, he'll need to be permanently retired and unrideable. I'm pretty sure the latter is just plain old fear coming out, because there is really no evidence indicating that full retirement is in his immediate future.