"Annnd, to T-rot!" Better yet, to an uneventful, quiet, and obedient trot! After a week of simply walking straight lines and diagonals and the occasional circle, Forrest and I chose a late July morning to give our first trot a try. As usual, he was rather explosive on the longe line, so I enlisted my other half, Paul, to sit on the mounting block to be on standby, should he need to update my Facebook status to "critically injured."
Tracking left and walking a few minutes to confirm Forrest was loose in the back and soft in the jaw, I closed my leg, a bit tentatively to be truthful, gave the verbal command that he knows well, "t-ROT," and received the reaction I deserved, a tentative transition into a rather mincy gait. Annoyed with allowing images of wild bucking to lurk in the back of my brain, I gave myself a stern talking to: "Put your bloody leg on and ride your horse forward. Why should he have confidence in you if you don't have in yourself?"
Adding a cluck as I closed both legs, Forrest responded as I hoped, giving me 50 more rpms and round the arena we went, me keeping a watchful eye on the horses in the big, adjoining, field, should they decide, "Hey, look! Forrest is trotting, let's gallop over there and pretend we want to race!" and also on Paul, bored, checking email on his iPhone.
I don't care where a young or green horse needs to place their head/neck in the early stages of trotting undersaddle; my job is to follow with a steady rein and focus on my own position (especially my cursed left hip which wants to dip and push my seat to the right) leaving Forrest to simply concentrate on his balance.
When I felt he was relatively consistent in his rhythm, I softened the inside rein, closed my elbows and lower back, and happily, as we approached the short side, even though this green bean has no idea of yielding from the leg, when I said, "O-ver," which he knows well from groundwork, and pulsed my left calf against the girth, Forrest responded in kind by pushing into a connection and outside rein.
That lovely, obedient, effort, was well worth rewarding, so when we came back onto the longside, I sat, pulsed the outside rein and gave him the obligatory dressage, 'bird trill,' and 'whoaaa,' and he came down to walk and halt immediately.
Lots of pats, praises, and a butterscotch. Dismounting, I felt no need to trot to the right, today...better to quit while I was ahead and Forrest was proud of his effort. A great day to build upon!