Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unintentional cues

I think Panama is figuring out when I ask for a trot, how to tell if it's a faster, posting trot that I want, or a slower, sitting trot.  Part of it is (I think) that he has finally slowed down a little and isn't rushing all the time anymore — I'm actually having to use leg to keep him going sometimes, which is a first in the three or so years we've been working with him — but he's obviously also figured out that he needs to pay attention to whether my weight is back in the saddle, or whether I'm more forward, preparing to post.

I've been noticing this for the last few weeks, but it became especially obvious last night, when I rode bareback for a bit.  I haven't dared a trot bareback since I had a couple of scary falls last fall, so I was pretty nervous about trotting bareback last night.  Sometimes he does a little hop up into the trot, and I was concerned that if he did that with me bareback or just took off, I wouldn't last a second before falling off.

When I finally worked up the courage to ask for a trot, though, he was really good.  No hops up, just a nice, slow, even trot.  He was rather reluctant to go back down into a walk, and my poor nerves could only take about half a lap in each direction before I was ready to take my success and run with it (figuratively, not literally!), but all in all it made me feel pretty good about things.  My seat is definitely improving — remember how I agonized about trotting bareback last fall?  I still need to work on remembering to sit back when I'm asking him to slow or stop, but I didn't feel unbalanced last night at all.

Anyway, I got a little off topic, since my original idea was fascination with how keen they can be to unintentional cues.  I've been trying to figure out for months, maybe years, how to teach him a cue for a slower trot, and here he's gone and figured it out on his own!

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