Somehow They Just Know
I hadn't ridden at our barn in the past week and a half since I lost Paddy. I had been there off and on for one thing or another but yesterday was the first day I actually took out one of the lesson horses to "practice" using my dressage saddle. The horse is older, about 18 or so but a cute bay; about 15.3. He's a hunter/jumper and trained some dressage. So yesterday was more about where my balance was inthe dressage saddle; only my second time ever sitting in one. The horse is very smooth so I was able to not only keep m,y balance but actually got brave and dropped my irons a hole; now, understand I am a 30+ year hunter/jumper rider so dropping irons down is scccaaarrryyyy! The horse was also terrific in that it poured the entire time I was riding and I do mean poured as in buckets of pebbles poured. It sounded like a bass drum inside the arena but the horse never took a wrong step.
Now, today, I scheduled him again. I got a little braver, riding without irons for a bit, and then decided to work some of the lower level test movements.. not really doing a test but just pieces. In Training 3 there is a line where you canter down the right side from A and go halfway across the diagonal at H, go down into the trot and then turn down the centerline. I opted just to do a simple change of lead and the horse picked it up beautifully. Now comes the fun part...I went past A and turned down the diagonal K intending to do another simple change when I felt the horse hop..it surprised me but when I looked down he hadn't swapped. I went with the simple change and just to test, turned down the diagonal again..sure enough, at X he swapped in front without my asking..or being ready for that matter. I have never had a horse be able to do flying changes so I was unsure how to actually ask for it but took a guess. It took a couple of more tries but in the second to last run we hit X and he did a precision change..barely felt it. Straight, change the bend, weight a little on the new outside iron, ask for the change..ok..got it now. We came around the corner and I tried to continue straight but I guess he was having so much fun at it he went back down the diagonal line and we did it again :)
How did he know I needed that?