Taken or given?
Last time I experienced a trot on Alvaro was with the sun in the sky warming my arms while I rode around outside. In contrast to the -6 degrees we have been experiencing today it has been a while so to say!
Back in the summer when the problems with Alvaro suddenly occured he showed the signs of it by stopping and stomping in the ground or tighten up and do what looked like spanish walk when I asked for forward movement. When we after several treatments thought he was all good again I had a belief that he was probably just fearing the pain he had earlier experienced. Meant that he was biased that pain would follow his movements under rider. Therefore I thought that I just had to push him a little to make him see that the pain was gone (which I thought it was). Nevertheless it didn’t help at all and no matter how many times I had him trotting under rider, it was never better the next time I tried…
I got to a point where I started blaming myself for having pushed him and my bad concience almost couldn’t handle it. I had felt how I didn’t like to push him, but I did it believing that I was doing what was best for him. I did it believing that his pain was gone and that he just needed a good experience to get going again. No matter the case I decided to follow my gut and from that moment there was no more ‘pushing’ of any kind. I had faith that he would show me when he was ready for being under rider. That he would show me when he was ready for more movement. That turned out to be yesterday!
Sure I encouraged him a little with my voice from his back, but I was completely settled with the thought of putting away this idea of trotting if he didn’t feel like it. Turned out though that he picked up on my idea pretty fast and started trotting nicely forward. Still a bit unsure, but with much more trust in the job. After a few moments in trot I asked him to stop, praised him and gave him a short break. When he started moving again on his own initiative I suddenly found him picking up the trot all on his own. This time I didn’t even had the time to ask him. I was so happy and relieved because he convinced and showed me that he was prepared to give me whatever I dreamt of as soon as he was ready himself.
I should note that people previously have been trying to convince me that it was just because of stubbornness or laziness that he started to protest on my forward signal. All along I had a clear feeling that it was not the case, but yesterday Alvaro really showed my that I was right about my gut-feeling.
When I asked him the fourth time for trot he responded with tension and a little lift of his frontleg. I asked him twice to be sure about his response, but it was obvious that he had had enough for today. I thanked him for his courage to try, jumped off and back to the pasture we went. To me it would only be fair to listen to him when he said stop. Especially now that he had showed me how he was happy to play along as long as it felt okay in his body. Had I listened to the crowd I would probably have pushed him to give me just a few steps of trot before stopping. Yet I figured that if I want him to trust that I will not take movement from him, he would also be more open to offer it on his own in the future. By always being thankful for what he offers, but also accept when he doesn’t offer I hope to be able to encourage his courage to try and joy in bringing movement by himself.
The feeling of being given the trot instead of taking it makes the difference. To me it was a whole other experience than taking it and it was so much more valuable!