As we warmed up this morning, Val was somewhat sluggish and ignoring my leg. (Not unusual.) I brought my whip into play - still no response - tap, tap, tap, tap, TAP! Apparently the timing and intensity were just right because I swear I heard a little gasp like... holy cr@p - she's serious!
And suddenly we were doing little circles, big circles, in and out of the scary corner, working in the deep sand on the rail, serpentines (!) and reaching. And I didn't need to raise the intensity of my aiding again. I believe we had a breakthrough. It felt so rewarding to have my horse's complete attention and focus. All of this while a tree chipper is going to town right next door.
After our ride we did some awesome liberty work, then went for a graze... a bit of ground work in the new arena, finishing up with
So the take away is that due to inherent laziness (bless his heart), Val generally tests my resolve at the start of each session. As he would be perfectly happy to stand still or amble aimlessly - possibly why his racing career didn't last long ;) - it's up to me to get his attention, and impress him with my intention. What I don't need to do is get frustrated or intimidated, just patiently convey that I have all the time in the world.
Today we put it all together. Which makes me really happy. Next week Val and I are heading off for a five day clinic with my trainer. I'm riding Val in the mornings and doing longe lessons on school horses in the afternoons. I'm thinking we'll be ready to move forward :)