And a Gorgeous Day!!
The lovely weather with cooler (70's) temperatures and a nice breeze just got better with my riding lesson on Tucker.
Gabriel decided we needed a new approach and had me warm Tuck up on a long rein, just ecouraging him to go forward in a good rhythm. We also added one trotting pole on one side of the arena and two poles on the other side which I crossed at random times. We just made everything matter of fact with no pressure.
I often warm up at home this way so it really was no big deal. We did lots of changes of direction and gradually I began to pick up the contact. By the end of the first 20 minute or so session, Tucker was up into his frame and working well on the bit. Through this, I began using the half-halt to rebalance him, transitioning down to a few strides of walk and then going back up to the trot, all without any incident of shutdown.
Then we took a walk break. When I picked up the rein to move off, Tucker balked, laying his ears back. I turned him to the right, got him moving and he balked again, half-heartedly, but definitely a balk. So I dropped the reins and just continued to urge him on and he stepped off. *insert sigh of relief here*
Well, the interesting thing was that as I began to trot his hind end felt up and he was definitely not engaged. This time I took him over the trotting poles which kind of forced him to reach under with his hind legs to get over the poles. This seemed to break through his reluctance and little by little he started going forward again. By the end of the session, he was beautifully correct, accepting the half halts to the walk steps and back up to trot and, according to Gabriel, working better than he's ever seen him.
I am going to be very creative in the training now, using poles and perhaps even some jumps to get his hind end working when it doesn't "want" to go. Gabriel and I were trying to figure out exacly what happens, to make him balk, but the only conclusion we can come to is muscle soreness or perhaps fatigue, so he definitely needs to build up his strength. The nice thing was that we were able to work him through the difficult moments and get some real quality gaits from him at the end. Right now, we're pretty optimistic.
Oh, yes, at one point, Tucker was shying at one of the jump panels set against wall and in is energetic effort to spook, I corrected with a shoulder fore and Gabriel's comment was, "He looked beautiful just then." OK. I guess I need "shy instigators" at every letter of the arena. *G*
I made it home in time to shower and head out to the birthday party for Maria, one of the secretaries at school who has just turned 65. There was lots of good food and once I went out to buy some, plenty of good drink. Most of the guests were people from the school, so it was kind of cool when I sang, "Maria: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," from "The Sound Of Music." Some of the people there knew I could sing, but some didn't so the round of applause had a good mixture of total shock in it when I finished. Better than that, Maria herself loved it, and I just managed to make it to the end of the song without breaking down when I saw her crying happily as I sang. I am so lucky to be able to give the gift of music as it really is a personal and special treasure to share.
Back home, the lovely weather beckoned, so I saddled up Chance and decided to try a ride around the 10?? acre field on the farm next door where my pasture is. Chance was really amusing as he wasn't too keen on walking through the tall grass--mowed field of rye that has grown up again in weeds and various grasses. We have a 300-400 ft stretch that borders the road and I was pleased that the passing cars didn't bother him at all. He was a bit tentative about the little downhills and uphills and he did a minimal but definite spook at some irrigation pipe piled up on the hill, but other than that he was craning his neck trying to take in everything. A few birds flew up and he didn't start at all, which was great. He offered one short "stutter" at something in the cornfield and did seem much more relaxed when we got back to the woodlands, but all in all I'd give him an "A" for the ride. He is going to make one grand trail horse, something I haven't had in a while. I am really looking forward to that.
I "asked" Toby if he wanted to go for a ride, but when he saw the bridle, he headed out to the pasture, making it clear he wanted no part of it.
Ah, well. Tomorrow's another day. If it's half as nice as today, I will take all three out for a hack.