I know that Kevinshorses started a thread about 'feel'. I enjoyed reading it but never got the chance to contribute. It was a thread that had me thinking a lot about my relationship with my horse.
I have been able over the last couple of weeks to fulfill my promise to myself that I would spend more time schooling and riding on my own rather than babysitting other people. I enjoy the schooling process with Phoenix, she is intelligent and fun to be around. I have noticed however that we have run into a new, I don't want to call it a problem as such, all though it is annoying behaviour. My schooling is just a small amount of time working on getting her soft on a handful of basic things, flexion, backing, yielding hind end/front end and side passing. She was getting very fluid and responsive.
Over the last couple of days she has begun to anticipate what I am asking her to do. I thought I have been very clear in my signals and when she responds well I always drop everything - legs off, reins loose. I thought that I was keeping things coherent, I give her a chance to think about one thing before I start on another.
Now I am gathering up the reins and before I have time to give a leg aid she is moving forward, I stop her and back up, go to gather up the reins so she goes backwards. Same thing, walk her forward back to the starting point, go to gather up reins and before I even get to use my legs she's going sideways. It's like as soon as she feels me going to make a move she anticipates what I want to do "oh, you must want to go forward, No? Oh you want to go back! No? Ahh sideways!"
I have tried doing things differently, rather than collecting my reins I don't touch them and use my leg aids but she does exactly the same thing, as soon as she feels me gathering myself she anticipates what I want to do and goes ahead and does it. The thing that amazes me is that she is moving before I have had the chance to make a deliberate move. I swear she is responding to my thoughts and the slight shifts in my body that the thoughts are subconciously sending. I know that I am sending her a signal to move but I don't know what that signal is. I thought this might just be a schooling thing that wouldn't occur out in the world. Yesterday I went for a ride and everytime I opened a gate we went through the same thing. As soon as go to put my leg on her she is either going backwards, forwards or sideways, not neccessarily in that order it depends on which way she thinks I must want to go, before I have had the chance to make deliberate contact with my leg.
I know that she is responding to me but I am buggered if I know what I have taught her. I thought I had been very clear in my different cues, and up untill three days ago we were doing fine. I have got to get my 'feel' levels up because her sensitivity towards me is uncanny.