There are days when I'm not too sure about all this. I feel like one of those parents who say, "I feed you, I house you, I clothe you, this is not too much to ask." I wish I could use the same logic on Cricket.
In preparing our L3 on-line audition, I've been having trouble getting Cricket to maintain the canter on the circle. As this is one of the compulsories, I need to figure out what is going on and fix it.
Yesterday, instead of working on the actual audition, I decided to separate out this one element and have a bit of a "come to Jesus" meeting with Cricket about cantering. My little mare is one heck of a challenge. Her unassuming demeanor is simply a smoke screen to lull everyone around her into a false sense of security and complacency. She can play an unsuspecting human with all the skill and finesse of a concert violinist. She has alpha down to an art form. And she manages to get everyone wrapped tightly around her little hoof. It's amazing. She could host seminars on "Getting Exactly What You Want From Anyone, Any Time and Have Everyone Loving You For It." I'm not kidding.
So I put her on the 22' line so I could be effective. I took her out into the paddock where we are going to be filming. I did everything I know to get her energy up and her tuned into the game. Once we established the canter, I noticed how she was pulling on the line. And I mean PULLING. Once or twice she had me off balance. Cricket does not need 22' of line in order to balance at the canter. She can canter on a 12' line. I realized we'd lost our rhythm, relaxation and connection. I asked her to canter until she could do so with slack in the line. She never even once offered it to me. And then she decided she was done cantering.
I finally stopped her when I could string a couple of strides together. I realize I went too long but I did not want to reward the pulling on the line. It's not like she was winded. Yes, she was sweated up a bit but not much. She was breathing deep but she wasn't winded. She stopped with immediate licking and chewing.
I have absolutely no idea what to do next. I have no idea if we accomplished something or if we took steps backwards. I have a feeling this is much more about emotional fitness than it is anything else. Weather permitting, we're going to do it again tonight. I'm going to try using a neck collar and the 45' line.
Never-ending self improvement has come to be never-ending self preservation.