Last night I went up to the barn without knowing the lesson schedule, knowing that I may or may not ride depending on how busy it is.
Well the lesson calendar was booked through to 9. I debated grooming and going home, but I really didnt want to go home! I know I was welcome to ride in the arena since there were only 3 in the lesson, but a very large part of me said “nope, go ride in the dark instead”
So we made our way up to the outdoor ring, and wow was Bentley ever perky! Well, he had been perky from the moment I fetched him from the stall. I dont know if it was because hes now living in the stall, or he was excited to ride in the dark. Either way, I had a horse that was very happy to see me and go for a ride!
As soon as I got to the ring, I asked for the trot and got that big giant speedy trot that just eats up trail. A few wiggles here and there to get a good look at things like bush shadows and the spooky judges box, but only on our first time around. After that, never a problem! He was abiding by my commands, but I could tell there was a LOT of energy coiled underneath me. So I let him have a good gallop around the ring on the happy left lead. We went round and round and round and round, and eventually I lost count, but for some variety, I threw in circles at random intervals, and he was listening despite the speed. Then I practiced pushing him down the long side, and collecting around the turns, brilliant! Then it became time to change direction and pick up the dreaded right lead canter. Instead of bringing him back, I decided to just change direction before bringing him back to the trot, shift the weight to my outside foot, and whats this? My horse has auto-leads? How did he learn that?
I brought him back to the trot and asked to pick up right lead again. Didn’t get it, put even more weight outside and kept the tight contact (I suspect I may have lost rein contact) and there it is! Right lead!
I was so pleased with this, that after a few happy laps, I brought him back and left the ring. Intention was to walk and trot around the field. We got out to the hay field, and picked up the trot. Up to the top of the hill, good, but half-halting every stride. He was raring to go. I walked down the hill and stopped to let him eat. He wasnt puffing at all, not even a bit tired, even after all that work! Ok, lets keep troting. He offered me the canter, and I allowed it and then allowed a good gallop twice around the large field. I was so impressed with him. The footing is good there, but I wasnt sure how he would take it, since he often stumbles at the walk (however, this is because hes trying to grab food and doesnt watch his feet!) I was also worried he would buck, because he was VERY frisky and kept trying to get his head low. I think the reason he was lowering his head, was to get a better view of the ground, I slowly let him get a little lower while still staying out of bucking range and constantly reminding him “Hey im up here!” with halfhalts. No problems! Great gallop!
Now seems like a good time in my writing to take a break to describe how beautiful it was that night. The moon was bright and lit the fields, sometimes I got the odd stick in the face along the outskirts of the field, it WAS still dark enough that they could hide, but nothing too bad! And the light of the moon was just enough to know when to turn so as not to run into a fence. The stars were absolutely brilliant, they filled the sky and felt absolutely magical. Lastly, it was about 10C and all I needed was a jacket and gloves, it didnt feel cold or dreary at all. I hope there are still more of these nights. Time seemed to stand still.
We went back into the ring to do some more work. We started walking and working on bending and leg yielding. At the trot, he was trying to canter a lot, so we stayed walking for a while. He did settle down eventually and we were able to do lots of circles and yielding beautifully on both sides at the trot. Moved up to the canter, no more gallop there! I sat back and brought him under me and we had beautiful dressagey canter. He was still very energetic and happy to canter, so I took this time to work hard on getting him not to lean on circles, and getting my weight consciously in the outside stirrup, and focusing on keeping a good position. Its been a while since I really had the chance to work on that! Usually I am too busy worrying about him to worry about me. Lots of circles, and changing directions. Doing lots more of those auto changes we discovered he cuold do. I think he got them about 75% of the time (but it was dark, so sometimes I wasnt totally sure until we went around a corner, sometimes he had it and I had just missed feeling the hop!) We did a ton of these.
Note to self, practise downwards transitions and maintain impulsion!
We went for a long walk after to cool out and dry off a little. All around the fields, enjoying the night sky. He clearly wasn’t tired, but he sure was wet! We really are going to have to clip him soon.
It was a very perfect ride!