I haven't had much time to ride this week, but I did squeeze in a ride on Woody, my approximately 17 year old Azteca gelding. For a number of rides, when I ride in the front pasture, I've been circling all my horses in the same direction around two cones, and cueing for the correct lead while doing so. The idea was to be consistent, and see if this would help the horses learn correct lead departures. I hoped to be doing figure 8's at the canter, and eventually see if I could get some flying lead changes.
I put Woody through his paces, and he IMMEDIATELY picked up the correct leads going around both cones, right one way and left the other. Not a single misstep. He knew which direction I was going to ask for, and was ANTICIPATING the lead even before I could ask for it.
I then tried a few figure 8's, but slowing to a trot between circles, and again he was consistent. That was enough for me for the day, and I eased him out to do some trail riding.
I was riding him in a German martingale, to re-train him to keep himself in a bit more collected state. I don't think I had to get in his mouth more than a half a dozen times. I used my body to do all speed transitions and stops. It was amazing. He was a bit dull in the first 10 minutes, but the less I touched him with the reins, the softer and more responsive he became. It was like he was judging me as rider, trying to decide how "on" he needed/could be, and responded appropriately. In other words, as I've described him many times, he adjusts to his rider.
He only has a few faults: his trot is rough and requires a vigorous post, he raises his head more than I'd like when he's excited, and he can get energetic when he's headed home. I can't fault him for his trot; that's just how God made him. I can control his energy headed home. And the German martingale has done well to remind him to keep his head collected with use about every third ride.
But short of that, I'm always amazed when I ride him. This was even more obvious after riding the young filly over the weekend. It's such a contrast between a horse who knows everything and one who is just learning everything.
Thank you Woodrow, for such a great ride!