I went out to ride on Tuesday with the intention of fixing the canter issue we have been encountering.
My goal was to get off the 'safety circle', use the whole arena, push him through the bucking, and not let him slow down.
So, we started out walking with some light trotting and he was incredible. I was shocked. I had moved my saddle back about an inch further than usual and he was so even and straight! I couldn't believe how straight he felt down the long sides of the arena! I was amazed! He was on the bit and connected. He was listening. He didn't even need our usual neck flexions to get him soft and paying attention!
On to the canter, I asked he moved right out. I aimed him straight down the rail and he reached under and dug in to go faster. I just let him. I was in this for the long haul, whether he knew it or not. Around the first turn, I lifted my inside hand and weighted my outside stirrup for balance. Along the second long side, he arched his neck down and tried a buck. I pulled in around into the 'oh shit' circle, aka- disengage the hind end. I kicked his hip around a few times and asked him to walk off. He was tossing his head and pissed off. I asked him to canter again. Again he took off with some speed. I just focused on sitting back and deep. He tried bucking again going into a corner, so instead of disengaging his hip, I just pulled him into a small circle but kept him cantering. We went on. He tried one last time to buck on the long side and I pulled him into the small circle and kicked him forward, not letting him break gait. That seemed to solve the bucking issue and now I just waited for him to try to slow down. When he did, I pushed him forward faster. We did a total of 20 laps around the arena to the left. I wanted enough horse left to go the other direction, so we did a lead change through the trot across the diagonal of the arena and kept going. Again, he wanted to go fast, so I let him. We did about 12-15 laps to the right. By the end, he was on a totally loose rein, cantering along nicely and doing circles off of my seat! I was in awe! We did a circle steering with seat only, then a simple change with seat only and a circle in the other direction off of my seat only. I asked him to halt, scratched his neck and let him cool out at the walk.
It was a really incredible ride. I was proud of myself for bucking up, so to speak, and getting it done. I have really gained patience and confidence with him lately.
To finish cooling out, we walked a lap around the pond with my friend Julie and Boomer's pasture-mate Ringo.
I am hoping that this lesson sticks with Boomer. He seems to be the kind of horse who has to learn a lesson the hard way, but once he learns it- its there for good. Thats how it went with trailer loading and being barn sour. So, I am hoping that this was enough of a workout for him to have learned his lesson. He seemed pretty pooped afterwards! I was so very happy with the results though. So, next time we ride will be the real test!