Today was a typical ride until almost the end. I was happy to discover that with a few minutes of practice Rogo got over not wanting to leave the rail. Oddly, after making sure we stayed off it, he seemed to want to avoid it on his own. Is he becoming an anticipater? (I don't mind a little anticipating - as long as I keep mixing things up I'm fine). Sometimes he picks things up with only a repetition or two. Unless it involves trotting. Then he isn't too enthusiastic.
I'm learning about the trot though. Some days he needs a long warm up before he'll trot with any quality, and I'm getting so I can tell which kind of day it will be before we even get into the arena. I've been doing the same warm up for months and maybe I should revisit it. Trotting certainly isn't Rogo's strength but I'm hoping that with training - lots of transitions, ground poles, hill work, etc. he'll improve. Of course, my riding needs to be the best it can be as well, so naturally that's an on-going goal.
Then we worked on canter and leg yield, and they are coming along - nothing spectacular, but good trying on his part and I'm starting to get the weight in my left stirrup / on my left seat bone a little more smoothly when needed.
I'd decided to have a final trot, going large to stretch out the muscles after the leg yield and then call it a day. This is when I got my Christmas present from Rogo :) When I put my legs on he cantered and my first instinct was to bring him back to a trot, since that was what I asked for. Then I decided, hell, it's Christmas Eve, he's been good, he likes to canter, just have an easy canter, no lesson work and let him finish on a high note. So we cantered, and then I thought, as taught, "I must totally relax my hips", and because I had no lesson in mind and no one was there to judge if he broke to a trot, I became very relaxed. We just cantered very easily and a couple of times I felt Rogo hesitate and almost trot (he's used to me pushing more with my hips), but I didn't try to correct him, just stayed completely relaxed, whatever he wanted to do was fine (I know, this isn't correct). I had some music playing and without thinking about it I began to keep time to the music with my seat, staying very loose, followed by a light impulse with my reins and Rogo went with the rhythm very easily. I thought circle, and he went onto a circle. I was still completely relaxed and we did a fifteen meter circle, but this was the amazing part - the beat was kind of slow, and Rogo did what I'm sure was a collected canter. As we did the circle it felt like I was sitting on a bouncing ball. He was going vertical with just the smallest steps forward, and it was as light as a feather - I barely had more than the weight of the reins in my hands and I wasn't pushing him at all and he was just springing along like a bunny rabbit :) in perfect rhythm and straight on his circle. I took him off the circle as soon as he completed it because I knew what he did was quite an accomplishment for him. I asked for a trot, threw my arms around him and told him over and over what a good boy he was. I actually got teary, which I've never done before when riding. I know I'm a flake, but it felt magical. I don't have a school master to ride, I've never ridden a horse trained past level one, I don't know what my relaxation and light aids are really supposed to feel like, let alone collection ...
So not only did he give me those magical few moments, he taught me that he does best when I'm light, and that often I don't need to try so hard. I honestly think it may be one of the most important riding lessons I've ever had.
I honestly and genuinely apologize if I sound like I'm bragging about Rogo's canter too much. I see it as completely separate from me. And I'm sure we'll bomb in all our canter work at shows next summer just to teach me to be more careful about what I say. I can never recreate my good moments when there are other people there. I think most people are like that, so it's an equal handicap.
Our weather continues rainy and windy. I'm so used to it I was surprised to read that we're (the Maritimes) being offered federal disaster aid. I'm just happy it isn't snow.
Merry Christmas everyone!!!