Now back to the actual horse stuff. Unlocking the small trot has created a new problem. I have worked very hard to eliminate the jig from Stinker's walk and we were doing really well until he discovered it is really easy to slip from the small trot into a jig instead of just walking. Part of the problem is a lack of clarity on my part during the transition.
The mini with the Irish Draught crack me up!
I am really good at following with my hips, I am not so good at setting the rhythm. Stinker needs more direction because when left to his own devices he doesn't look like a dressage horse. At first I tried just walking until he settled then going back to the trot in hopes that it would become clear to him that walk meant walk not anticipate trotting. That failed, the horse isn't stupid and he kept going trot now trot now trot now.
I tried using changes of directions to settle him like I did at first, but he would take the slightest change as a cue to trot. That is when it clicked that I needed to make my cues for transitions be very concise. Right now I barely do anything and he trots off because faster equals better in Stinker's mind. I have to actually cue for the down, but even then I am being unclear and leaving him to his own devices too much.
Such a fancy pants!
Yesterday, I really focused on him waiting until I asked for the trot and then making sure I didn't totally drop him after the down transition. We did have some problems where he was excited and wanted to go forward. I let him trot as long as he respected the half halt and didn't just try to curl and plow through my aids.
He really surprised me in two ways. One he was super good and was happy to trot along in the small trot extend into the larger trot and then come back. Two, he has way more fitness than I realized. We are so freaking hot (mid to upper 80s with 80% humidity that pushes the feels like temp into the mid 90s at 8 am) and I haven't been doing a ton of trotting with him. He gets worked about 30-45 min 5 or 6 days a week with I would say 90% of that at the walk. I would say that at least 50% of the ride was at the trot and he was working hard, but he kept trucking along.
Walking for 30 min (calmly)
I am really happy with where he is at right now, and hopefully we can keep on improving. I am getting excited about working on the canter since his trot has been much more consistent. That small trot is total magic because he can be forward but he stays balanced and doesn't get to running.