It started as a not so great ride. Orion was distracted and worried about something on the left side of the arena. Through the warm up he gave me little attention but followed my suggestion. I worked to increase his attention on me through increasing the dialog and asking him to engage for simple tasks, such as speed up, slow down, bend left, etc.
I worked on transitions and things seemed to get worse. So I back up. I went to the simple basics and got them better. From there I added one more item to the list. When things got good, we took a break in the early morning sun. Then we went back to work and stayed on the basics. Speed up, slow down, speed up. The we went to softening the bend to the right, spiral in and spiral out with accuracy on which speed I wanted instead of which gait. Then we took a break. Then on to the left side. We took a break. Then when we went back to work, things fell nicely into place. He was more interested in the conversation, he was more forward and began to carry himself better. Then things just seemed to melt into place without any effort.
Although it did not start out as a good ride, it ended with such softness and connection that I couldn’t stop smiling. I got off and rewarded him with taking off the side pull and loosening the girth. He lowered his head into my chest and let out a big exhale. It doesn’t get any better than that. I often judge my ride by the amount of improvement, not the overall performance. And that makes this one of the best rides ever!