A short-term goal for Rodney is to walk quietly on the buckle. You’d think this would be Horse 101. I’m not talking an animated walk, or keeping his frame without me holding him up. I mean a slow, gentle plod around the ring, and ultimately around the field.
As with riding bareback, the goal is to relax. As with bareback [Looking Forward], Rodney doesn’t not find it relaxing.
The ultimate goal is to develop self-reliance. Previous Horse would warm up at the walk, trot, and canter with the reins on his neck. You better believe I want my horse thinking for himself [Fifth Leg]. But that comes later. For now, a quiet walk would be nice.
Rodney has rein issues. If I pick up any contact at all, he curls up like a shrimp. If I drop them entirely feels abandoned out there on the end of the reins by himself. This is not a surprise. He gets tense being all the way out at the end of a lunge line by himself. Hence the close-up ground-work [Progress, Roping Rodney (illustration)].
Rodney deeply, desperately wants to do the right thing. Either from a kind heart, or from a severe dislike of being yelled at. Or both. Either way, when left to his own devices he has no confidence that he is making the correct decisions.
Of course, what goes through his horse-sized brain is not that self-actualized. But that’s how my overly-literate, human brain translates the feel.
So I loosen the reins, breath deeply, and tell him he is a big, bold, smart horse who is absolutely nailing the exercise.
Thank you for reading,