Today we warmed up in the indoor because someone had turned their horses out in the outdoor. I got some super nice relaxed but attentive trot work out of her, and we did the usual figure 8's and zig-zags. Until today, all I have been asking of Lucy is to travel straight, and have been using very minimal contact, directing her mostly through my seat and upper body. I decided today that it was time to introduce a bit of contact and see how she did with it. At first she was like, "Hey, what are you doing with my face?" but she quickly figured out that if she softened through her neck and back, she got a release. As soon as she softened, I would praise her and let her walk on a long rein. Pretty soon she was eager to give to pressure, and clearly happy when she got her long rein. I worked on this for about ten minutes and then noticed that the outdoor was free.
I decided to do a little experiment, and without dismounting, I asked Lucy to walk out the indoor's side doorway, around the barn and across the driveway to where the outdoor is. She was like, no problem boss! She was SO good about it! We walked around the outdoor so she could check it out, because it had been about a week since I rode her in it, and then I did some quick reviews of contact with her. Since we had already warmed up in the indoor, we moved right onto cantering, and had some fabulous canters each direction. Going to the right was like heaven; she was so soft and happy and not rushy at all, but then I lost my stirrup and she got a bit quick (probably because I was trying to get my stirrup back and was accidentally nudging her with my toe...she doesn't need a lot of leg at all!).
There was a single pole along one of the long sides of the ring, and after I got my stirrup back, she cantered over it in both directions. Last time we worked over poles, she just walked and trotted over them, but there were three in a row. This time there was just one pole but I was asking her to canter. A long time ago, I watched a friend teach her greenie to canter over poles and the horse jumped about eight feet through the air, thinking it was a jump. I had that in the back of my mind on our first approach, but luckily she was cool as a cucumber about the whole thing. The first time she cantered over it like it wasn't even there (which I loved) and then the second time, she kind of hopped over it and switched her lead mid-stride. After that I made sure to be clear that I wanted her to stay on the same lead and she got it every time. She is SO SMART!
Each time I ride, I hop off at the end of the ride and think to myself, "wow, that was the best ride!" When every ride is the "best one", I cannot help but be ecstatic. I love this horse.
Tonight the lucky lady is getting a massage. I bet she'll love it.