Ellen and I were riding Cole and Dante in the indoor arena. Cole was frustrating me. Since he trots much faster than Dante, as we go around the edge of the arena, I keep catching up with them. Rather than pass, I wanted to make a circle and let them get further ahead. That way, I wouldn't be disturbing them.
When I would try to circle, he would protest and drop down to a walk--or even stop! I became determined to keep him going.
One time, I asked him to circle away at a trot from Dante in the corner. He went in a very small circle, but I still drove him forward with my seat to keep him going. He did; one slow, reluctant step after another--but he stayed at a trot. I clicked and treated him for it.
Ellen saw us and said that it almost looked like Cole was trying to do a Piaffe. Huh? The Piaffe is trotting in place, and it is a very advanced dressage move.
Those who have seen Cole in action know that he would have made a first class dressage horse. He has so much natural ability, that it just oozes out of him. His trot in the arena is extremely powerful with more suspension than we know what to do with. If ever there was a horse that was born rear-wheel drive, it was him. I know for certain that he is physically capable of doing a Piaffe with ease, but neither one of us is anywhere near that in training.
But he is my trail horse, and we only work in the arena when we can't get on the trail.
I rode around a bit, thinking about how to try to do it. I guess, I just use my seat really strong and allow him to lift himself up.
I trotted him around the corner and then did a gentle zigzag to pull him all together--and asked. I got 3 trot steps and only moved about a foot forward. Click and treat! Ellen didn't see it.
I did it 3 more times. Cole gave me more distance--but he also gave me more impulsion. He was doing something, but each time, Ellen didn't see it.
Finally, Ellen was going to watch. I trotted through the same spot with the same zigzag, and nothing happened. We then went to the wall--and he transformed. He went a fair distance, but his gait was different. From what Ellen described, I think he did a Passage.
I could tell that Cole was experimenting. That's what he does. He finds a movement and works on it all his own--I just give him treats when he does something great.
I didn't know if this was a one-time thing or where he would take it. I didn't even know what any of it looked like. I couldn't wait to try again the next day.
I was walking on clouds...
The next day, after warming him up, it was time to try it, again. I had Paula there, this time, to let me know if he was doing anything amazing--and this time, I had the good treats.
I asked for a shoulder-in and gave him one of the good treats for it. Now that he knew I didn't only have carrots in my pocket, it was time to see what he could do.
It took a few minutes because I had to figure out what I did, myself, the day before--but I got something, and Paula said it looked good.
More important; I got it more than once. One time, it was definitely 3 steps in place, but they were very low. Most of the time, he was stepping high and moving only a short distance. Kevin said that he never saw Cole lift his back legs so high. He kept getting better.
Up where I was, I could feel him shift his weight from one hind leg to another--and I could see his front legs hopping, too. Also, there is no doubt that he was much lower in the hindquarters and higher in the forequarters because it almost felt like he was sitting down. Everyone who saw it said it was amazing and beautiful, so we will continue to work on it--whatever it is.
I just hope it doesn't backfire on me. I could just see us.
"Cole, cross the river."
"No, I will just trot in place, here. You like when I do that."