|Bar really wishes I would stop steering him like a bus|
To do that sometimes requires letting go of "he needs to do this all perfectly first" and also "well, he can't do that until we master this." Those voices are so irritating, aren't they?
Case in point is our current work on the turn and the trot, fundamentally getting him to use his hind end and respond to more subtle cues from the reins. It is not easy for either one of us, but he's working with me and listening. It's important, however, to get out of my own head and give him a break, not keep drilling him over and over on the same thing.
So when we've done several rounds in both directions and he knows he's done it right, we do something else. Sometimes we wander around over obstacles at a walk, on a loose rein and sometimes I let him canter. It's rarely a perfect uphill canter, but he's happy, his ears are up and he's relaxed.
I was feeling guilty about the above--letting him canter willy nilly however he felt like it, giving him a mental break before we get something perfect--and then I read this guest post by Katie Hill on Retired Racehorse. Her ten tips are golden, and not just because many of them are things Bar taught me along our journey. They make sense! They are easy to do! I don't need to buy side reins (which would likely have been an unmitigated disaster with two klutzes on either end of them.)
There are so many more things for Bar and me to learn, but we are muddling through better than I dared hope in some of my darker moments. In fact, we even may be doing a little better than muddling through.
I'll leave you with a great bit of word knowledge from Katie as an added bonus--describes both my horses quite well, actually.
"(According to the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins the origin of the word shenanigans is likely the Irish sionnachuighim — “I play the fox” or “I play tricks” – inspired by an Irish Thoroughbred, perhaps?)"