As Funder astutely pointed out, there's no snow in those pictures. Spring arrived, gradually and then suddenly.
As a result, I had two great rides in the Great Outdoors. We've been doing ok in the arena, getting soft, solid work, nothing spectacular. But the Great Outdoors poses challenges of its own, like wind, things that move suddenly, wide open spaces and maybe some fond memories of fox hunting or galloping over hill and dale.
Regardless of the cause, when Brego goes out, he is ON. Sometimes naughty, but always ON. I rode him out in his French link bit and he minded. We even got some lovely rocking horse canters across the fair grounds. Brego was happy to be out and threw in some exuberant bucks, but nothing malicious and when I locked my hips and opened my chest, he came back to me.
The thing is, Brego is a great paradox. I am both in love with and afraid of the horse. When he reads my mind, saves my butt, is fun and game and happy, he is the best horse in the world. Period. But when he's had enough, when he is scared or bored or just done, he gets aggressive and dominant and very much not fun.
The last three weeks as Spring approached, he got worse and worse. Aggressive, kicking out in the field, he even bit my stomach once while I was bridling him. Very unlike him, he was unsettled or unhappy. And that makes me unhappy, because you know, this is as good as it gets. This life of his. At least with me. Sure, I bet he'd be happier on 20 acres of rolling pastures and five fun geldings to play with nonstop (as would I, believe me!), but he's on a muddy side of a hill with a geriatric and quite witchy mare. I was worried that he was unhappy in his life, and when Brego is unhappy, he's dangerous. I was starting to dread riding him out, that he would kill me in the first five minutes.
But something's changed. His eye has softened. Even yesterday with 30 mph gusts of wind and a storm rolling in, I forced myself into the saddle to ride. But before I swung up, I looked him in the eye and he told me, clear as day, that he was ok. He was soft. So up I went and off we went and even though the sky was threatening and a million things were blowing across our path, he was ok.
When we got to the fair grounds and he saw the huge field open in front of him and I braced for the take off, he waited. He went my speed. He trotted when asked, cantered when asked, and most importantly, checked with the slightest shift of my weight.
Today was even better. Again, Brego looked soft. He looked like he wanted to have an adventure. We hit the back trails which have been closed for a few months and they were wet but not boggy. Even the old mare was happy to be out on the trail. We headed over to the next town, found a really nice packed gravel road, smooth with no rocks sticking up, and tested a few gears. Brego was amazing, powerful, fast, but there, with me all the time. We finished the ride, two hours total, at a ground covering trot. He never even broke a sweat.
I think part of me is just not used to a horse that wants to go. Brego has a taste for it now and his preferred gait is a canter. That just blows my mind. Stacey talks about Klein that way, but she's young and obviously talented and fit. Brego has always been, well... slow. There's just so much power there when he wants to unleash it, it scares me. I need to treat him more like my Thoroughbred mare, expect him to want to open up and release some steam. Stop nagging and checking. Having a horse that wants to go forward is a GOOD THING. I just need to keep up.
It will likely rain the rest of the week, but this weekend was perfect tonic for both of us. We went out, we even had fun, and we cleaned the cobwebs that endless hours in an indoor will do to you. Brego will see the chiro on Tuesday and then get the rest of the week off to soak up the goodness. Hopefully, rain willing, we will have our first dressage lesson with my awesome neighbor next weekend and then, bam, show time. April 26th.