Mr. Heems (I have so many names for him) has a little naughty trick that he's been using for months. Faux spooking.
I have to admit - he had me. It took me a long time to recognize it for what it truly is. My barn friends caught on sooner than I did.... but what can I say? I was in denial. Surely my loveypookiepieponykins would never be naughty. I much prefer to blame my ammy self for all our issues.
But the spooky things (chairs, jumps, whatever) would magically only be spook-worthy when tracking right and when passing things on his left side. If we pass things on his right side, or if we are tracking left, they are not spook-worthy.
The faux spook is really an evasion of the left rein, generally involving popping the right shoulder out, uber counter-bending (forcing more right rein contact and loosening left rein), and breaking rhythm and/or gait by either slowing down, speeding up, or -my fav- jumping out to the right. I can normally tell where he will do this - there's a few areas of the arenas that he likes to spook at (habit I guess?) and he is obvious about giving the googly-eye to something.
Focusing on our connection on the left rein (one of our 3rd quarter goals) has really helped me see this, and get past it. The jig is up, Hemie! I have a no-nonsense attitude and I'm not falling for the trick anymore. He can spook all day long, but I'm not giving up on the left rein. When he does "spook" I know to:
- Keep the left rein at all times. Period. Release the right rein if necessary.
- Keep the rhythm/pace even.
- Pop that shoulder back in place if starts bulging out.
- Move on. Don't immediately return to the scene of the crime.
I'm also figuring out how to release tension that I carry during dressage rides (much more than I'd previously realized) which is REALLY helping.
Our dressage lesson last Thursday started off a bit rough - I was losing patience and getting frustrated.
But it ended up being a great lesson. Laurie was encouraging and helped me to focus on one thing at a time - and with patience, we got lots of nice work done. We did quite a bit of canter, and I must have been using my core more than normal because my lower abs started cramping!
On Saturday we had a jump lesson and Hemie was fabulous. Laurie raised all the jumps, which Hemie loves. We had great flatwork to warm up and throughout the ride, and we even jumped a skinny! A blue barrel on its side, with guide rails. I had to really ride straight, but Hemie picked up pretty quick.
On Sunday we went for a nice hack. It was peaceful and Hemie enjoys them as much as I do. I recently bought some Higher Standards Soap (the special lemon scent in honor of Viva Carlos) so I cleaned a bunch of tack and also got started on Hemie's woefully outgrown mane, because I've got my eye on a local show next weekend.