Tonight I was ready for my dressage lesson on Gemini. I had him tacked up and ready and as I started to warm him up, I realized he was off. He was tender soled and stepping gingerly. My guess is that the long trail ride the few days before on the rocks had caused him some injury to his solar plane. I realized I couldn't ride him and then realized I needed another horse!
I thought of Z, but I'd spent nearly 7 hours on her the day before. It didn't seem right to ask her for a dressage lesson the next day. Rain is gaited - that would never work. Hmmm... Rio! This would be a great test of his capabilities!
So, I tacked him up in my english saddle hoping that I had enough shims. He seemed comfortable and we were ready to go. I warmed him up, focusing on sideways and backwards. I needed to be sure he was thinking and listening. I hadn't yet ridden him in the large arena and I didn't want to find out that he was not paying attention while I was on his back. We found a good place where he was thinking and I was ready to mount.
We lessoned for about an hour - all circles. Rio did awesome! He is definitely western trained, so I tried to keep him contained and upright. He wants to lean into turns, a good thing for a western horse. I wanted to keep him up, vertical and straight on the circle. It took him about 10 minutes to blow and begin to let down. He was quite extroverted in the beginning, but over the course of the lesson he was beginning to look for the release to stop or walk.
We worked on stretching him out forward - long and low. He loved that! He wanted to travel like that a lot of the time. I tried to pick him up so he could ride with the contact in that position and he did very nicely. We practiced getting him contained and packaged and then changing my seat to get him to stretch and extend, then back to packaging him up again. The goal was to teach him to move forward with power and engage his whole body. That was very cool. By the end of the lesson, his short and choppy trot strides become much longer and much smoother to ride.
He was comfortable and seemed proud of himself for making us happy! I tried to reward him often and talk to him so that he knew he was doing all good things. I don't want him to think he's wrong - he's a sensitive boy and I imagine he's been wrong a lot.
He's a mighty little horse and I think he'll make a great performance horse for someone. He can do anything.
Rio: add 1 hour