I'd love to say that the ride was a smashing success and we're doing amazing things, but I'd be lying. We're still working on very basic things like steering and not falling in. This is hard with a horse who doesn't quite get leg cues all of the time! The ride was definitely a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
We went to a dressage barn where Echo's never been. He unloaded nicely from the trailer and stood for grooming and tacking much better than he did on Saturday when we went XC schooling. Pawing was limited to him raising his RF, but a quick growl had him back with four on the floor. We longed briefly (he was very nice in the round pen) and went to the covered arena. He's been in a covered round pen before and was fine with the arena. The mirrors at one end were only mildly interesting (!?!?!!?) - the other horse didn't sniff him back so apparently wasn't worth his time. I was totally blown away by how nonchalant he was - what a good pony!
As the lesson progressed, a horse in the paddock closest to the arena lost his marbles and got the zoomies. He sprinted around for a good 10 minutes like a lunatic. Echo was distracted by him but never tried to do anything other than look - never sped up, never thought about bolting, just kept on keeping on. I swear, this horse has such an amazing brain!
We had some nice leg yield at the walk to the left - he was really starting to cross over and get the hang of things. We had some SUPER nice trot moments at the very end, where I really got to feel him come up over his back. OMG, I could ride that forever. And his canter... big, rolling, sooo amazing. I only got to feel it for a stride or two at a time, but now that I know what we're aiming for, I'm constantly trying for it!
I have no right leg aid. None. (This was obvious yesterday too with him heading to the right at every jump.) And if I did, Echo ignored it completely. It was to the point that when our (new) trainer, JD, poked him in the right side with the butt end of a whip, he moved TOWARDS her, leaning INTO the pressure instead of away. FAIL.
The uglyMy riding was the ugliest thing of the day. I have video but I'm too embarrassed to show it. I'm heaving my butt out of the saddle at the trot, my hands are low and wide and I can't keep contact to save my life, and my leg is allll over the place, but mostly too far in front of me. Maybe I can get some longe lessons or something, because I sure am not doing Echo any favors at all riding like this. Ugh.
Echo only had one really ugly moment. At about the 40 minute mark he stopped dead and refused to move, despite me kicking his sides in. That's when I picked up a whip, and we went back to work again for a few more minutes and he was fine. This is the longest ride we've ever done in an arena, so I imagine that his baby racehorse brain was a bit taxed - hence the dead stop. It's understandable, but we worked through it and that was a good bridge to cross.
The very good :)Our new trainer LOVED Echo. Loved his movement, loved his attitude, loved how hard he tried and how much we progressed in a single ride. She commented that she thought he could take me as far as I wanted to go. Woohoo!
We have another lesson in a week. In the meantime, my homework is to work him in-hand to get him moving away from pressure on both sides, plus lots of leg yields down the long side, and doing squares at the walk. I need to carrying a whip, and JD wants to see how Echo does with very small spurs. I'm also going to start longeing in side reins so that he can think about contact and relaxing into it - right now he just doesn't quite know what to do about it for more than a step or two.
Lots to work on - I'm so excited!