OK, so the progress this week was so disheartening that I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it. He had Monday off, then on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I lunged him without tack to let his withers heal. To keep his interest, I put a pole on the ground at two points on his lunge circle, partly to give him something new to think about and also as early introduction to jumping. This seemed to be just the thing for him to be opinionated about, and of course he was! I spent the three days working though his opinions, or should I say, working despite his opinions. At the end of it he was lowering his head softly and raising his shoulder within the tempo of the stride in walk, trot and canter to clear the poles. I was very pleased.

On Friday, I put my dressage saddle on him, lunged him on the flat with side reins, and hopped up and walked around. He felt OK but I felt nervous. Saturday same program. This time, when I lunged him, I felt he was less comfortable with the saddle on his withers than he had been the day before. When I rode him, I got the same impression – I tried to trot and again he just hopped up and down and threatened to rear. I rode him back to the barn but I was generally feeling that things were slipping backwards instead of progressing.

Today, Sunday, I had my friend Pamela pony him around outside in the sunshine while I schooled another young horse indoors. When I finished riding in the arena, I met up with Pam and mounted outside. Pam ponied me and at first he seemed to once again be unhappy and sticky, throwing his head around and generally arguing….however….we started trotting and after a few kicks from me, it started to wear off. This time I was riding in my working students saddle, a Passier like my own with a narrower tree. It was fantastic, all of a sudden I was floating along on a big open trot with Solo stretched and balanced in front of me., the next thing I knew he broke into a BEEYUUUUTIFUL canter. The sort of canter that feels like you are on springy elastic legs. He cantered along quite happily, listening to my voice and accepting my leg aids. I had Pamela unhook me and I rode him home at walk and trot, problem free. I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt to finally feel I was directing him from in the saddle, and he was actually listening to me and getting on with it. It was a wonderful ride and a wonderful day. It’s the little things in life….

As I put him away, I was trying to think of what was different….the saddle….being outside….being ponied again at the beginning…perhaps all of the above. I was absolutely thrilled, he had been so obedient and responsive to my leg. It wasn’t until I got home for lunch and went to take off my boots that I realized I still had my spurs on from the horse before Solo!! Well….fancy that.