Things have been going well at the new barn. We're currently taking weekly lessons and walking away with lots of homework.
A couple of weeks ago we had a "step up" lesson as I like to call them - one where our trainer introduces something new and thus gives us something to work on all week (month, year, etc). That lesson was all about sharpening the response to the aids- both in the up transition but also the down. Ben LOVES to trail his hindquarters, and getting him to step under himself is always a challenge. He loves to be strung out. Yesterday was the day my trainer told me to shorten my rein and ask him to carry himself higher. Boy was that hard, and while we had glimmers of goodness, it felt really new and uncomfortable for both of us! While I always knew my reins were a little long, I was comfortable and so was Ben. However, keeping my reins long was inhibiting our progress.
The crisp transitions - wowsa those were also pretty tough. Apparently Ben and I ride together like we're on some leisurely Sunday trail - we'll get to it when we get to it. Haha - both of us had to wake up and smell the coffee. For Ben, asking for that immediacy immediately brought forth a reaction, but it was the pace. We did get a couple of great up transitions from halt to trot, but a lot of them were halt to mish-mosh of pace/trot/canter. However, we ended on a great note and had a nice long cool out on a beautiful day. I thought all was well.
All was not well. Apparently we rocked Ben's world and he was not okay with it. The next few rides were a complete cluster. Ben had somehow forgotten to do anything that required being in a saddle, bridle, and with a rider on board. He was spooky, looky, tense, and reverted to pacing at just about any request. So, my plans to practice our new "stuff" quickly went out the door. I gave him a few days off. The days I did ride I kept it light - walking, turns, a couple transitions - all on a super loose rein. Zero expectations.
Thinking I just destroyed any and all progress over the last few years, I humbly told my trainer what was going on. As it worked out, I was going on a business trip and she offered to put a ride on him. I gulped and said yes, kind of nervous what the outcome of that would be.