For most of the time that I have been riding him, Faxx has been my toughest horse. Not because he is uncooperative or naughty. The main reason he is hard for me to ride is the very reason why he is such a nice horse — he’s a BIG mover. And he’s a big mover who was not terribly keen on taking steady contact with the bit. That issue, at home anyway, is mostly a non-issue now. It does pop up at shows now and again, but he’s made huge strides in that area. The other reason he’s been tough to ride is that to be able to SIT that huge trot of his, he has to be completely through and connected with the bit. For a long time now, I’ve been able to sit the trot for short periods, until Faxx comes off the bit and drops his back. Then it’s been back to posting trot – even iof just for a few strides – to get him connected, and his back up and round, in order to go back to sitting trot.
Lately, I’ve been able to sit his trot ‘at will,’ as it were. And, now, when he ‘falls apart’ a little, I can often ‘fix’ him without posting the trot.
Suddenly, Faxx is no longer difficult for me to ride. It has been a long road, but one so worth traveling. Faxx has a super brain, and is a really sweet, good-natured, honest boy. Not the sharpest crayon in the box, but that’s OK. Fling is smart enough for all three of them. A high IQ is not a prerequisite for being a successful dressage horse!
He’s been working so well, last night I decided to try a few tougher moves to see how he would handle them. Canter is his best gait – people are awed by his trot, that has a ton of suspension, but he has a terrific ‘born-in’ canter that is super easy to ride. Plus, he’s very balanced at the canter – more so than the trot. (Which makes him the polar opposite of Faeryn.)
So, there’s a move from Second level – test 1, I think, where you do a three-loop serpentine the entire width of the arena, so you are in counter canter for a portion of it. Most horses sort of ‘fall down’ during the counter canter part at first – or want to speed up to maintain their balance through that. Not Faxx. He has no trouble with the counter canter, or maintaining his balance. Then I tried some 10-meter canter circles. Same thing – no trouble. What a good boy!! Then I again asked for canter to walk transition – remembering to half half several times and try and use my seat more in the downward – he had ONE trot step, but the transition was very ‘up’ and he maintained his throughness.
And so I quit on that! I always thought Faeryn would get to second level before Faxx,but now I am wondering. Perhaps I just have not been ‘challenging’ Faxx enough? That is the biggest problem with my riding (and with most amateurs). We love our horses so much, we are happy with what they give us – and we do not ‘push the envelope’ often enough. It’s that ‘pushing the envelope’ that gets you from one level to the next.