I’m tossing the idea around of dabbling in a new discipline since I won’t be endurance riding this year (with the exception of Muckleratz). I flip flop between wanting to dabble in the local winter gymkhana circuit for some laid back fun or looking to see if anyone in the area offers an introduction to cow work.
While bouncing back and forth I’ve continued to work on two things: softness and patience. Whatever we decide to do, the ultimate goal is to have a super soft, patient partner and to refine all of our cues and become lighter with my aids. Nakai’s working well in both aspects: our seemingly random trail stops have helped to reinforce his patience and expand the duration he’s willing to wait. For a horse that wants to constantly go, this is huge. I’m seeing a marked difference in both relaxation and his competitiveness. It’s also helping to keep me from anticipating a wiggle-fest when I want to stand for more than a minute or two.
A few barn ladies are working on similar goals, so riding out with them during the week is beneficial to everyone. We’ve been able to get at least 5 miles a night at a good average speed while keeping everyone’s brains. It’s also a good opportunity to continue asking him to stay soft, and I’m very pleased with how well he’s working in such a short amount of time. I anticipated asking a few friends to do some drive-bys at speed out on the trail while Nakai walks or stands still, but it hasn’t been necessary.
[ One of our many pointless stops ]
There’s still plenty of work to do, though. We’ve had one moment each ride where I ask for canter and he responds by wanting to gallop off, but with a firm transition to halt followed by backing up, he waits and then will pick up a polite canter. The bareback rides have also helped my core and have bettered my ability to sit his bouncy pony trot for longer periods of time, too.