Yesterday, I rode my horse. For 20 whole glorious minutes. For the first time in 8 days. It was the first time I'd done anything like schooling in closer to 15 days. I fought tooth and nail to carve the time out of the schedule. I got on not expecting anything, just wanting to have the feel of a horse underneath me again.
I asked for softness in the walk. He gave it to me. I asked for more from the hind end. He gave it to me. I asked him to stay soft and round through the transition into the trot. He gave it to me.
I asked for a canter, and I asked him to come through the outside rein, in exactly the same way I have asked futilely for years (and years and years), expecting the flung shoulders, the block-of-wood neck, the hard mouth.
He softened and rounded.
I do not exaggerate in the slightest when I say the following. It is a statement of pure fact.
I have never, ever, not once, not for one single split second, felt my horse, Tristan, soften and round in the canter. Not truly. He may have given up on bulling through for a second or two, but never, ever, EVER has he put his head down and softened to the bit.
SO NOT MY HORSE.
Oh hey that's more familiar.
I almost dropped the reins. I yelled "HOLY SHIT" at the top of my lungs to the empty arena. I felt disoriented, like the ground had dropped out beneath me in front - what was I supposed to do without his ears up my nose?
I laughed. I cried. I remembered all of a sudden how to ride a collected canter and put my leg on, and straightened him out, and then brought him down to a trot and praised him to the skies.
I may not ride again for another week, but if this is the change only four training rides has wrought, I can't freaking wait.