What do you get when you put together a rider who's basically only ridden Quarter Horses, an Arabian, and a trainer that trains reigners? You get a riding pair with an Arabian who sticks his nose to the ground and trots slowly with droopy-loose reigns and a very happy rider! Snickers really impressed me today. I decided it wasn't a great combo to be trying to teach him how I want him to move and behave while I'm trying to learn to get my seat on him at the same time, so I rode in my Western saddle today (which I'm still going to sell!) I brushed Snickers out - his hair was still a little matted from yesterday - saddled up, and lunged him in the round pen for a while at both a trot and lope. He was a little shy of the barn side of the pen and spooked a few times, but not really bad and he may have just been feeling a little good. It was pretty funny because I'd tell him WOAH and he'd plant, turn towards me, throw his head in the air, and BLOW! ... as in nose flared blowing with this nice fog horn type sound all in one huff. He's the first horse I've known that does that (though Sonny did it today with tail in the air and all when he was turned out to the pasture by himself). Barb said it's an Arabian thing and they do that when they're feeling good usually. I think it's cute and it looks pretty cool. After he calmed down and relaxed a bit, I took the halter off and put the bridle on with nothing to hold his head down or hold him still, and he took it just fine with his head nice and low! Good boy!
So then I rode him around and around at a walk and eventually at a trot. He didn't spook when I was on him the whole time and listened really well! At a trot, I just asked him to drop his head and said easy. It's almost like he starts reading my mind and knew what I wanted - it didn't take very long for me to give me a consistently slow and easy trot. He was able to get something too, though - because he drops his head so low and slows down, I couldn't hold him tight with the reigns. After we felt each other out and got a little communication going for the slow trot, I was able to give him all the reigns in the world and he didn't speed up! To ask him to slow down now, I just have to say easy (it took him a little to realize that doesn't mean 'woah') and jiggle the reigns a bit (like I've been teaching my students to do with Rocket), and he slows right down :) Good boy! He looks like a royal reigning and western pleasure horse now! I don't care so much about the height of the head as I do the pace and listening, but it sure feels good when he puts his head low and trots nice and easy. I'll have to show my dad what an Arabian can really do if you're smart enough to work with them :) I didn't ask him to lope today because he was doing so well on the trotting and I really wanted to reinforce that. After a couple of times trotting each way (working in a little neck reigning each time we switched direction toward the fence), I decided he'd done a good enough job to be done. He let me take off the bridle really nicely and I unsaddled him. I gave him a good brushing afterward while I fed him treats, and then fixed one of the braids that came out. And of course more treats haha.
I'm pretty proud of him. I feel like I hit the jackpot with him and we're going to make an excellent team. I'm so glad we found one another and were able to give each other a shot. Even though the first time I met him he stuck his tongue out at me! I'm so excited to bring him home tomorrow - Barb and I are planning on meeting at noon at her place, she's going to follow me to Eagle and drop him off, then I'll spend some time with him there to help him settle in. It's good knowing he's bonded to me and, in Barb's words, I'm a "familiar face". This is going to be great :).