I took Toby out to see if the Park was flooded and luckily it was not. I managed to convince him to stand still with his face in some nice lush grass while I took a few pictures. Then we headed back home through the woods for a nice little trail ride.
Chance is much sounder, though not perfect. I just lunged him for about a minute to evaluate his condition.
Then, I put brandy new flame orange flysheets on Toby and Chance as Tucker watched with obvious interest and a bit of jealousy. When I finally took him in the barn to get his new sheet on, he was quite pleased, but the best was yet to come.
We trailered over to the indoor arena about 20 minutes away for our lesson with Gabriel.
May I say, quite proudly, that Tucker was a gem! Gabriel was quite pleased and more than excited to see him going so well. As he did at home, Tuck accepted all kinds of aids, half halts, shoulder ins, leg yields, haunches in, and lots of "square corners" to get him to balance back on to his hind end. He was gracious and responsive to the whip and even when he needed some urging to gather some energy, he was willing and accepting. Even after a walk break to let him relax, he settled right back in to some excellent work.
Gabriel was totally enthusiastic about how he was going and said he really hadn't seen him ever work quite that well.
I told him of my plan to move up to third level and he was just fine with that. Part of the theory is that a horse like Tucker, who is very clever, needs the challenge the higher level tests offer.
Gabriel said it would be easy to teach him the flying change, something we will have to learn over the winter. When I told him Tucker is perfectly happy to counter canter, even through a tight turn, it did give him pause, but I agree that the flying change will not be a big issue once Tuck understands what it's all about.
The trick is to find just the right exercise to encourage the change. With PJ, I used a very straight with little bend half pass to the rail at the corner and then asked for a change. With Toby we did it in a figure eight, with Russell, as I recall, it was using a ground rail and using his natural desire to be on the correct lead. Tucker is very balanced when he is on the "wrong" or counter lead so that does pose a bit of a problem. I'll just have to figure out how to inspire him to choose a new lead. It just might be doing repeated lead changes through either walk or trot, gradually making the striding between shorter and shorter. We'll see.
In the meantime, I have a definite goal. My trainer agrees it's OK, so we are on the same "page."
Now I have some real motivation to ride. Just what I needed.
Three cheers for Ulcergard!