So, yesterday I restarted Cayenne under saddle. Thinking that it was too good to be true, I decided to ride her again today, to make sure it is all still there. It is.
She was perfect for 2 days in a row! I tacked her up, and she stood like a champ, not giving me fits over anything. I climbed on, and she walked out when asked. Yesterday that was a bit of a problem, and Cayenne wasn't sure of the command to walk forward. She got stuck at first. Today, she walked off with a light touch. She backed when asked, for as long as asked. She turns on a light contact, and even kinda sorta turns with neck reining. She's starting to learn, and I won't complain at all, since this is only day 2!
So, after reaffirming that all of yesterday's stuff was still there, I added a few new things. She learned to do yo-yo's. A yo-yo is a silly simple training device to keep the horse thinking about what will come next. Most often what I do is while walking, I ask the horse to halt, back, halt then walk in rapid succession. That is then worked up to walk, back, walk. When the horse has all 3 gaits down well, it can be trot, back, canter, or any combination. The idea is to keep the gaits and the transitions light and fluid. It's also good for me as a rider!
Cayenne got the basics of the yo-yo. Walk, halt, back, halt, walk. That's as far as we got, but she gave 100% to it. She has a little trouble with straightness, and tends to walk like a drunken pony, but that's typical for this level of her training. If I work at it, I can ride her straight, but it takes a ton of effort. I think working on perfectly straight is probably rushing things.
I am trying to go at the pace Cayenne sets, and Cayenne is setting a very fast pace! This is not normal for me. I usually prefer to have many more slow easy sessions before adding in the advanced stuff.
Now, Cayenne is not perfect. She did give me a bit of a head shake when she decided that SHE was done for the day. She also tended to veer over to the gate anytime she thought she could get out of working. I didn't have to work hard to get her going again, and a "good girl" and pat on the neck was good enough to keep her happy and enjoying the work out.
To finish off the lesson, I added in something new. I try to do this with young horses that I am training. I think of it like a preview on the next lesson. For Cayenne that was trotting. During her cool down laps (not that she really needed it, but warm up and cool down are something that shouldn't be overlooked!) we finished the last lap with a bit of trot, walked again, then a bit more trot. I stopped her and got off, pleased with her, and of course got all mushy gushy with my baby girl.
Ya know, I usually prefer big tall horses to ride. I like a horse that's between 15.2 and 16.1 hands, with 15.3 being my "perfect". I have always thought that anything under 15 hands was short... so here I am riding a pony! I hate to admit this though, but it's like a sports car. Not much around ya, and tons of fun to drive.
A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses
I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.