It's a very cool feeling to have your horse back up from a hand signal, go the direction you ask, and change gaits on command. And Sage often does all those thing reliably at liberty. But yesterday his winter grumpiness was not cured with a not-so-new challenge; we spent much of the session with Sage outsmarting me and the instructor and with him testing us more than us testing him.
Does anyone else face this in their more trained Curlies? The footing limits you somewhat but their brains are still in high gear?
After my instructor left I went back out to play with Sage some more. I tried making it more interesting to him by getting some obstacles out--cones and barrels--that kind of stuff. He's seen all that before and felt that was all really boring too and got so he was listening to me even less!
But don't worry, this story has a happy ending. I realized that maybe I didn't know how to gain his respect on the ground at liberty that day; but I did know how to relieve his boredom. So I stuck his halter on him and we went exploring. The barn is right on an intersection and there's 3 different directions you can go; one of them is a huge hill up a dirt road past our house. Sage and I climbed the hill together and got to the top; a place we had never been before. Sage just looked and looked out over the vistas and seemed to soak it all in. I let him just stand there in the middle of the road looking at everything for a long time. Finally I turned him around (because Thea was screaming her head off about being separated) and headed back towards the barn. Sage heaved this huge sigh that just seemed to show how much better he felt.
not sure I really solved his disrespect, but at least I could make him feel better. Who says horses don't get cabin fever?
Not the best picture--but I like it because you can see sage is looking at the reflection of the mountains in the window. :)