I’ve been really reluctant to post anything for the past couple of days. Mostly because I wanted to hold on to the wonderful feeling that these past few days of training Achates has given me.
As anybody who works with or trains horses will know, not everyday is a “breakthrough day”. Most days are like chipping away at a block of marble. You have the finished image of what the sculpture will look like in your mind, but the actuality of what’s in front of you is far from it. But every once in a while something will come upon you out of nowhere and you’ll realize that you’ve finished an arm or leg of your sculpture. Suddenly you’ve come that much closer to the finished product you want. These are what I like to think of as the breakthrough days.
The main issue that I have with Achates is getting him in front of my leg and moving truly forward from his haunches. I’ve been leaving his head alone lately since that seems to block any forward energy he has. Instead all I’ve focused on is getting him responsive off my leg. I’ve done this by thinking of the least amount of pressure I can apply to get the results that I want. Since Achates has a tendency of being hypersensitive I just visualize myself trotting and slightly vibrate my legs to get the upward transition. If he sucks back a light tap with my whip on his shoulder is usually the only reminder he needs.
I work on just this exercise of getting the upward transition from walk to trot until he stops balking and starts pushing forward into the contact. Once this is established I start looking for the transition within the gait. Does he respond when I ask for more? If the answer is yes then I finally move on to asking him to come round and through with his frame.
For the ride before I didn’t even been think about asking for his head, but for some reason this past Friday and Saturday everything finally fell into place. He finally came forward, through and connected, and it felt like little or no effort to get him there. To top it off he was consistently holding himself in place. He managed to raise his back, come under himself and really use all the muscles that he has been developing during the course of our training.
When you get days like this, of complete and total synchronicity, DON’T take them for granted! Reward yourself and your horse. Days like this are the culmination of all the hard work that the both of you have put in, and they will become more consistent as your training progresses. And when you hit those hard days where it feels like you’re in the same place and not moving forward use the memory of these spectacular rides to push you forward.
More than anything just enjoy yourself when your warrior surprises you with his or her brilliance. And give yourself some credit for enabling them to shine at their brightest.