I've come up with the perfect fitness program - I run along with Rogo as I free longe him over ground poles. Ha ha, not kidding. I mentioned that I need to incorporate some fun days in the arena with Rogo, so they aren't all dressage days. For someone like me who just does dressage, I imagine it gets pretty dull for the horse, so I realize I have to find things for us to do to mix it up a little, especially this time of year when we can't ride outside.
When I went to the barn today I decided we'd just do free jumping, ground poles and an introduction to clicker training, no riding. He was happy to do free jumping, but sedate. He's beginning to understand the routine, so he cantered around quite willingly both ways and did the jump I had set up. Then I removed the jump and laid out ground poles down one long side. I had some upbeat music on and the arena is small enough that even free longing him I can do large ovals in the middle and go around with him, which I did. A song came on that I like (Rolling Stones, She's a Rainbow) and I remembered someone (Calm, Forward, Straight?) mentioning that their trainer told them the rider / trainer needs to put the energy level in that they want from their horse, and I wanted to see if Rogo would pick up on my energy level.
..... There was no one else around - I had the arena and my horse and some boppy music all to myself and I was feeling happy and exuberant soooo, I said "Yippee!" and started running along (no waving whip, etc., just a heightened energy level from me) with him and instantly he was galloping and snorting and his energy level was UP HERE. He was so happy and excited. I was worried that he'd trip on the ground poles - he isn't ready to gallop through them yet :), so I said trot and he went to a huge trot, literally passaging through the poles, tail way up on the air, and lengthening down the other long side. I ran along with him, singing as I went (believe me I wouldn't do this if there were anyone there - maybe Rogo was in pain). There was nothing scary or out of control about him, his ears were forward, no behind turning toward me, etc. He was having fun in the indoor, my goal, and I was getting an incredible workout running ovals in the middle of the ring while having fun too. It was a good workout for both of us. As you know I want to improve his trot and this certainly got a nice trot in a fun way. I hope I can eventually segue that to under saddle.
To finish I wanted to introduce clicker training. I haven't done alot, but the first thing I do is teach the horse not to crowd or get demanding for treats, so when treats are used to reward the horse stays respectful and safe. I only had a broken up candy cane to use for treats, so we went with that. He loves them and wanted a piece, so I waited while he sniffed the treat and pushed my hand for it and waited and waited some more. The second he looked away I made a clicking noise and gave him the treat. We repeated this several times and by the time we finished he was looking away each time I brought out a piece of candy cane. He seemed to like this game too. I only do it for a few minutes.
I free jumped Dan before Rogo and refreshed his memory on standing in one spot while at liberty. Jen is coming to ride him tomorrow which is great.