Photo by High Time Photography
Let me start off by telling you that after I rode today, I checked under Ike’s tail to see if there was a fire. Not smouldering embers, but huge, engulfing flames. Alas, there was not, but you could have fooled me with the way the boy was acting today while under saddle. “Let’s go, go, let’s go, let’s go faster. What half halt? Did you half halt? Run, Forest, Run.”
So there was no fire, and I’m not entirely certain why we were stuck in fifth gear today. Yes, Ike has had two days off, but that is nothing new. It was not noticeably cooler or less humid today. It was in fact very muggy the entire time I rode. His darling Lady was in the ring today with us, but she was as calm as could be. A hawk was perched on the fence for half of our ride, but none of the other horses even gave it notice. In any case, since Ike was in the mood to move, we worked on our trot and canter.
The trot today was not our best. Too much forward with too little acknowledgment of my half halts translated to a trot that is too quick in its tempo – jack rabbit quick or perhaps jack hammer? I tried sit trot to see if that might get Ike’s attention, but bouncing on concrete hurt, so I went back to rising. Can you say no throughness or recycle of the energy? The only music that would have meshed with our trot today would have been some head-shaking punk rock from a 1980’s group…The Clash came to mind as we motored around the arena. And forget about stretch down trot. My one attempt resulted in an exuberant canter transition as soon as I offered the reins forward.
Our trot was frequently interrupted by canter. My half halt attempts to try to regulate the trot tempo were only half heard by Ike; ignore the squeeze of the reins, but hear the squeeze of the legs, “Oh, that means go faster!” Selective hearing by the young man…oh, we must be hitting the male equine teenage years. Subtlety was not to be had in my aids today to combat the deafness. Full body bracing with the body angled backwards about 30 degrees, screaming “Slow down, Ike,” with a death grip on the reins was what it took for Baby Huey to hear my request to regain my trot. Definitely not a pretty picture, but I just didn’t want him to think that he could make the decision on what we were going to do.
When it was time for canter, Ike was more than ready. Circles were challenging and non-circular to start. The long side of the arena was an open invitation to extend the canter. Half halts that were half heard at the trot were blatantly ignored while cantering – maybe Ike thought that he was moving faster than the sound of my aids. I’m pretty sure I stood up in my stirrups and did a full body half halt more than once. When Ike would try to break to trot, I would say, “No way, Jose. You wanted to go, now go.” Even if it was just for another 5 strides, I made him wait for my request to trot. By the end, our canter settled into a more normal tempo – less Marmaduke, more dressage horse.
Ike’s anniversary is only a few days away…guess I’d better get started on the party planning.