So today, I decided to give things a go. I decided not to video it, because I figured we would be a hot mess and I wouldn't want evidence. I was wrong and I have never been so happy to be wrong. I started with the ground work. This consists of me bending his head left and right using the reins like I would in the saddle. Yay for being tall and having a short pony, otherwise I would have difficulty with this. Then a quick lunge making sure that he is giving in the neck and shoulder. NO bulging under neck allowed. Then I drilled the calm quiet mounting. Everything was geared towards relaxation and give. Oh and did I mention that there was a gas power washer running 10 feet from the ring and a lawn mower 50-100 feet away.
Things started off a little tense and prancing. The hardest thing for me in these moments is not using the reins to balance. He is so freaking uphill that I feel like I am sliding off his butt. I struggle to keep my legs under me and my butt tucked (not truly tucked but it likes to pop out). When I use the reins for balance, it causes him to be more tense and prancing. Duh I would not be happy if I had a chunky monkey balancing on my face either. Anyway, it can be a vicious cycle (one I got stuck in for several months). Since I can't bring him back to the walk to regain my balance I have to halt him. This gets tricky, because he halts willingly, but quickly gets himself amped up. If I halt and give the reins, I have 3-5 seconds to rebalance myself. We had to do this several times at the beginning, but each time he relaxed a little. (I use the term relaxed loosely. He is tense as hell, but doesn't feel like a coiled spring.)
When I put my left leg on and asked for flexion in the neck, there was lots of scooting. I added some outside leg to help with the haunches swinging. This resulted in some canter attempts, but I managed to keep my ass in the saddle and say "no, just bend; not canter." After a minute of this something clicked. He gave in his shoulder, let me keep my legs on without shooting forward, and allowed me to maneuver his neck. It isn't the extreme bend D wants, but it was a very good start. He maintained this bend off of the circle. There was a couple times where he lost it, but he let me reestablish it without having to go back on to the circle.
While his back wasn't lifted and he was still carrying tension, this is the best he has felt since March when D first brought him down to me. It was such a fabulous ride. I am just hoping that I can maintain the forward progress. And hopefully, get something similar on video. Otherwise D might think I am full of crap. Either way, I am flying high tonight. There is nothing like an amazing ride to make your day.
I am mean and let ponies lick kitties. The kitten was cool with things until the licking started.
On a random note, check out this video of this barn kitten. I don't know what she did last night but she was sacked out all afternoon. I was pinching her paw like the vet does when they are checking to make sure the animal is under anesthesia.