I generally work Saturdays. So my Saturday nights are usually either spent on my couch trying to stay awake late enough to watch Saturday Night Live, or at the barn, since I have no life because, well, horses. This past Saturday was the barn version of a Saturday night for me.
Cisco was my victim for the night. After tacking him up I took him over to the arena. I thought maybe I would be good to hop on without lunging first. Then I laughed and laughed.
After lunging for a few minutes, I hopped on. And had a horse who was a bundle of nerves under me.
Cisco is always on. He has yet to come into the barn for his grooming and have a nap. He is 6 going on 2 based on his ability to stay focused. He's naturally curious, but not terribly brave. And he is a sensitive, smart horse.
In his brief time under saddle, he has been very mouthy with the bit, and all over the place with his head and neck carriage - giraffe, snake, German dressage horse (you know, curled behind the bit). I think it is mainly due to nerves. I am not asking him for any sort of frame at all, but I have short enough reins that I maintain a forwards feel of his mouth, wherever he puts it.
In a perfect horse-breaking world, we would hack out every day with an older horse and spend lots of time out in the open at a slow gait, just working on relaxation. However, I live far from a perfect location. I live in a an area that is frozen and dark for half the year. So we have to ride in an indoor arena. Which is rather boring.
This Saturday night, I decided that we would just walk. Just steer and walk. And see if he would (could?) relax.
At the beginning there was a lot of chomping on the bit. Constant chomping. Which resulted in fussing with where his head was.
But after about 15 minutes, it changed. We had 3/4 of a lap of the arena with no chomping. His neck was (slightly) lower. His walk stride was longer. And lots of sighs.
We did a few more minutes and left it there. Cisco was by no means walking on the buckle, but I felt it was definite progress from where we had started.
There will definitely be more days of just walking over the next little bit. Walking is sooo boring. But boring isn't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to green horses.