Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

What did you learn today?

So they say you should learn something new every day.  They did NOT say it has to be something important.  hahaha and I freely admit that the VAST majority of the "something new"s I learn are, well, shall we say less than useful.  Often bordering on the edge of "waste of brain cells".

But today's  something new was reasonably entertaining.  Time will tell if it's actually useful or not, but definitely caught my attention.

So I was having a dressage lesson and we're trotting around our pretty little 20m circle.  Horse is through and connected and working hard and technically doing everything right, but we were missing the "wow" factor.  And honestly, I didn't think much of it, because I'm not even entirely convinced she has "wow" in her.  After Zel, my "wow" setting is kinda high - not necessarily reasonable for a teenage horse with tons of holes in her training who's not even really fit.

But regardless, I'm trotting around trying to gain a little more suspension and we've tried all the usual tricks (I'll tell ya - after last week's shoulder-fore through cavelletti exercise everything seems easy!) but the magic is somewhat lacking.  And then my coach comes up with the most random instruction I've ever heard:

"Make her outside ear go forwards."

Ummmm sorry?   I don't think I know the aid for that!  hahaha but he was on the edge of frustrated so I figured I'd better just figure it out...  Now Athena is very manourverable.  I can put any leg in any position you want it - shoulder in/out, renverse, traverse, head up/down forward/back, any combination of the above.  All no problem.  Admittedly the lateral work isn't competition quality yet, but at least the legs go where I ask them to :)   But move the outside ear forward?   I can get some horses to give me floppy ears, and I can almost always get them to flick their ears back on me.   But forward?

My first thought was to flick my dressage whip up in front of her outside eye -- pretty sure that'd work.  But also pretty sure that was *not* the look he was going for.  And he wasn't really feeling like tolerating me being a smart ass today so I quashed that plan.  Most days I can get away with it, but not always *g*

So I sit there and I fiddle and I play (getting such instructions as "not both ears, only the outside") and eventually by some fluke I'm quite certain I had nothing to do with (oh wait - take credit for flukes!  Ummm yes, I did that and I did it on purpose!) the outside ear flicked forward.  Cool.

But alas, was only for a stride.  Played around a bit and got it again, significantly faster.  And this time it held for a couple strides.  And those strides felt remarkably improved.  And then we lost it.

Rinse and repeat.

Eventually I get it for most of the circle.  And all of a sudden, with that outside ear pointing forward we have incredible suspension and this lovely floaty trot I didn't even believe she was capable of.  We found the "wow" factor.  And better yet - we could even repeat it going the other way!  Sweet.

Apparently that is, in fact, a fairly common side effect when you get all the aids together for brilliance -- the outside ear comes forward while the inside remains focused on the rider -- but this was the first time *ever* I've had a coach focus my attention towards that as the goal rather than the byproduct.   Interesting experience.

So now I've learned today that all my years of telling Stephy not to watch her horse's ears was apparently wrong -- she was just watching for the magic to happen :)

hmmmm or maybe not.

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