Don't laugh, but this is Taran having an epic meltdown, complete with mini-rears.
Stiffness became stopping and mini-rears. I got after him, and he tried again for me, but we just couldn't seem to get it right despite repeated requests for "more". I could feel that Taran was doing all he could but that in that moment, he simply couldn't give me any more (and I wasn't helping him any either). Finally, I told Alfredo I needed a minute and asked Taran to walk. I got yelled at for quitting before we had gotten it right, which made me kind of mad, but I took a deep breath and let it roll off me. I knew my horse needed a short walk break to reset, and I knew I needed one too. Yelling at us wasn't helping, and I needed to advocate for my horse. So we walked.
This is a fine line that we riders have to navigate. I like being pushed to perform - it's how I get better and how my horse gets better. I try really, really hard to do what I'm being asked to do. I'm lucky that Taran also tries really, really hard, even when I'm not sitting right or I've gotten handsy and am not making it easy for him. However, as riders we have to determine just how far past our comfort zones we are OK with being pushed - and we have to be able to say that we (or our horse) has had enough.
Fortunately, a short walk break got Taran and I back on the same page, and we were able to continue on with renvers on a circle and perform it correctly. Which turned out to be super important because it got him all engaged and bendy and then we did this crazy thing and rode a TROT HALF PASS.
No really, we did.
I mean, the half-pass right isn't great, but that side is always a struggle because he's not always solidly into the right rein. But it looks kind of legit!
We did lose some of the bend but CROSSOVER!
And then we went left, which was kind of amazing:
Also, lest you think that Alfredo does nothing but push, you will hear him get on my case for not rewarding Taran IMMEDIATELY with a walk break after he performs the first half pass. He's really just looking for those one or two correct strides and then the horse is rewarded. You just need to be able to produce one or two correct strides!
Also like this (do you SEE his abs and butt muscles working?)
We ended the session with a little canter. You can see in places where he's really engaged and the canter is slower and more collected (and I'm like, sitting up and riding it?) and places where he's not. We need more of that slower, collected canter for second level work. It's in there though!
Major take-aways for day 3 include:
- More bend
- More bend
- A little more bend would be good
- MOAR BEND
- FFS BEND ZEE HORSE!!!
We probably learned something else, but that's really all that comes to mind right now. Oh and slow down.
So there you have it: the good and the not so good and the really effing amazeballs. Alfredo is a tough guy to ride for, and he's definitely focused on having the horse perform correctly rather than on rider biomechanics. I will absolutely ride with him again next time he's in town, but I'm also looking forward to going back and working with my regular trainer on the things I have learned in the clinic. The good thing is that I've walked away with a new appreciation of Taran's capabilities and how to unlock them, and a better understanding of what I really need to move up to the next level (hellooooo more bend). Such a great experience!