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It is June in the sunshine state. Temperatures in the mid 90's with the humidity bringing the heat index up to unspeakable numbers. Everything is sticky and simple tasks outside have now become trials. Why is it then, my fabulous followers,my rotund little golden pony has grown rocket boosters?
Bodhi has always had more whoa than go at the best of times. He is also not a fan of Florida summers, turning into an itching(allergies), sweating, groggy mess. One of my constant training challenges has always been to keep him "light". I would say he varies normally between average to very heavy and slow in his responsiveness. He can be slow as malasis on a hot day. I have ridden him with spur buds and a dressage whip (with my trainers insistence) before. I have been working lately on his responsiveness to my legs with clicker training as well.
When Bodhi was up and charging forward on our conditioning ride in the big pasture I thought that was normal, but on Sunday during our ride in the ring he jumped three caveletties at once (!!!) and leaped into the canter at the slightest leg. Monday I decided to work on tempo regulation and only did trot work but he was super sensitive and as forward as forward can be! We are still in the learning stage of the new bridle but Monday I finally got his head and neck more relaxed and his back more rounded but I had to continually remind him to slow down!
Is this a real problem? I am not sure. If it is, it is a nice problem to have. I have no fear of getting run off with. He still stops on a dime. Yes the haffie power trot is a little exhausting to post, but to actually have a forward horse-- I'll take exuberance even if it is a bit over the top.
So causes of this sudden shift? Here is what I have so far...
- Bitless bridle a) he feels more free to move forward. I have heard that "lazy" horses can become more forward when you remove the bit? b)he does not like the new bridle and feels anxious about it and wants "to get it over with"
- He is in shape - we did a ton of rehab and he may be in better shape than he has ever been before.
- A Maturity thing -young horses go through phases, maybe he is feeling more confident with his better balance and muscle
- Flax seed=rocket fuel?? he is now on flax seed to help his skin allergy.
- My upper body= crap. He could be running forward because my upper body is a wet noodle lately.
- Clicker training; I have been rewarding exuberance and responsiveness lately, especially at the canter. Could this account for his new and improved work ethic? That is what it *feels* like to me. That he is trying really hard to get that click. Unfortunately he is trying too hard.
I am sure it is a combination of several of these things. He definitely feels like he is jumping to conclusions and rushing to answer questions I have not even asked yet. It feels wonderful to have such a enthusiastic student but my role as his teacher now is to ask him to just relax! My challenge will be to find balance in this new issue. Ask him to soften and balance his body off the forehand without loosing that exuberance. If we can shape this wave we will definitely be at a break through.