Show of hands . . . how many of you do this?
I was thinking about Ashke this morning and getting him back to moving forward. We were doing better last summer at Christianson's than we are right now. I have managed to completely bottle him up at the trot. He has no idea what I am asking for and is frustrated by our process.
I don't think it is helping to stare at his poll, right between his ears. It is my favorite place to look when we are riding in the arena. I wonder what that feels like to him. I wonder if it's like when you are in school or at home trying to do something and you can do it just fine as long as no one is looking, but as soon as you try to do it for someone, you fumble it. And you can feel them glare at the back of your head. I wonder if that is how Ashke feels when I ride him in the indoor.
I don't do that when we trail ride. When we trail ride I am looking at everything else around me. I am watching for the types of things he might suddenly want to go sideways at. I am looking for uneven ground or large rocks or the smoothest path. Sometimes I'm looking at the mountainside or the deer or passing horses or oncoming cars. When we ride out, I rarely look at his ears.
In Horsemanship Through Life, Mark Rashid has a chapter where he talks about being present and riding your horse. What he means is that you have to constantly be riding, not daydreaming about work or TV or what you are going to cook for dinner. I find that I can not let myself get lazy or distracted when we ride out, because he will go sideways to bring me back to the present. So, needing to ride and be present and be aware are the reasons I don't have the time or inclination to stare at the top of his head.
The problem is there isn't much to look at in the arena. I guess there are jumps to look at if you are jumping. But we don't jump. I can stare at the dirt path I want him to follow, but that eventually leads back to my staring at his ears. Even when I am riding in the middle of the arena, up and down, I stare at the ground right in front of him, which is almost the same as staring at his ears.
I think I need to stop worrying about what he is doing at the micro level and start worrying about the overall action. Our overall path. Our moving forward.