After numerous two-hour long battles, a week of my instructor simply shaking her head at the antics of my bi-polar horse, and many many muttered mentions of "girl needs to get some spurs" the bay finally.... FINALLY! Managed to get me an accolade from the instructor that didn't include "I didn't think he was going to stop that time," "I've never seen someone stay on after they're already sideways...." or "well... he didn't get you off today."
We had an actual organized class today, instead of the free-for all get to know your horse let your horse get to know you situation. We did a western pleasure class... just as if we were competing in a show, except without the ribbons. And with several amusing (but not life-threatening) mishaps and runaways... and not all of them me and the bay.
After a few rounds at a walk and a few minor battles over the bay's desire to stop at the gate and wait patiently for me to open it and take him back to the barn, things seemed to be going good. He was being easier on the bit, responding well to leg cues, and the fact that everyone was going the same way and doing the same thing was a help for me.
Walk went well, trot went well. I'd been working him at a walk and a trot all last week so he's fairly well convinced that I'm the boss, unless we're near the gate and then he just has to try it, so I wasn't too worried about those, except for the fact that I had to bring the long legged sucker to the inside of everyone else, because he still hasn't grasped the finer points of a slow, medium, and fast trot... and even when he does his medium trot is as fast as several of the other horses' fast trots.
Then, the instructor called for a lope. Not just a lope, but specifically a lope on the proper lead for the direction we were going...
Explanation time out here... when a horse is loping or galloping, and to a lesser extent trotting, they have a leading front leg. This leg extends further than the other, bracing them against turns and making for a smoother ride for the rider. The proper lead depends on which direction you're turning, or which one is called for, in more advanced riding. But for this class, the proper lead would be the inside lead for whichever direction you're turning.
So, I was cussing under my breath because Big Bay Wonder Horse has been having a small problem with loping... he doesn't want to do it. Unless, of course, he's traveling in the direction of the barn, and then he wants to break out of a lope and into a gallop. Leads have depended upon his whim and how hard I can kick him with the proper leg, just as he's moving into the lope.
I figured out a while back that kicking him hard to get him into the lope only encourages his bad behavior, while a little patience, clucking and gentle nudging gets him there eventually... And I prefer eventually to a crow hop and then taking off like a striped assed ape, really.
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather, when I got him urged into a lope, on a short rein so that he wouldn't get any ideas (which isn't really comfortable for him, but is much more comfortable for me than racking up frequent flier miles... he can hold his head where he wants to when he learns to behave) and he picked up the proper lead with only the cues I would have given to a well behaved horse! I thought I was going to have to keep pulling him back to a trot and starting over until he got the proper lead, to keep from running over my classmates, but he picked it up right off and made me proud.
And he continued to pick up the lead cued for for the entire class, every time she asked us to lope! I even got a couple of flying lead changes out of him, when I was at the other end of the arena from the one being scrutinized at the time.
I was so proud!
After a few circuits of riding as the instructor called out for us to, he started getting restless with all this hullaballoo and fighting more, but he did much better today than he has been!
I think the instructor is starting to become fond of him for his spirit and determination, she called out to me several times during the class, "How's he doing?" and when I would answer "Arguing with me every step of the way," she just chuckled and said "That's him, all right."
But, the Big Bay Wonder Horse got a handful of grain when I put him back in his stall today. He did so much better than he has been, he deserved it.
Maybe all he needed was for someone to tranq him, and manhandle him to trim his back feet?
Which, by the way, look much better, even if he is just the tiniest bit footsore from it. Not enough to keep from riding, but a little tender nonetheless.