Ok, the ground wasn't great. Mostly it was still frozen, but about a one inch layer of sand had thawed in the riding arena, so there was enough "grab" for hoofs and just a little sense of cushion.
This means I could ride but had to take it easy to keep the concussion to a minimun. Riding for too long on hard surfaces is not good for a horse's legs nor for his feet, so I kept each session short.
Since he was willing to be caught, Chance was on first and he really did do some pretty good work. I know he needs more long lining to really settle into the "on the bit" attitude, but he didn't toss his head up once and he was pretty even in both directions. The bend to the right came pretty quickly and the left as well, so my circles stayed fairly accurate. I did have to avoid the western edge of the track where it was till pretty frozen, but there was a nice section in the center where the sun had reached---the little sun we had today--and the footing was OK. I must say I am getting the feeling Chance is going to be a nice solid fellow once I get him trained. And so far, under saddle, he hasn't shown much of the opinionated resistance he shows on the lines. Then again, he hasn't had too many challenged under saddle yet.
Toby made the mistake of wandering into the aisle through an open stall door so I snagged him next and took him out for a short school. Well, the "schooling " was mostly for me as I was fascinated with Stacie's problems with his right lead canter. He kept flying the change to the left lead for her. Nothing like that with me. As a matter of fact, ironically enough, I find the right lead canter more supple than the left. This may well be because he is hollow to the right and stronger to the left, so on the left it is easier to "find" a place to sit whereas on the right, you have to commit yourself to believing its there and just ride the lead. We had a great little time together, just kind of playing and finished up with two lovely flying changes when I wanted them, one from each lead.
So that left Tucker. He was just a little bit unsure with the new arena lights as the shadows they cast are different than the previous lights, but he settled quickly. Not one stop today!! If I felt him thinking about it, I pushed him a little sideways and he went right on again. We did a number of downward transitions and each time he moved back up a gait with no issue. He did lay his ears back and "scrunch" up on a couple canter departs, but I corrected him about the attitude and he accepted pretty graciously. I played a little with some half pass at the trot and canter, pleased to get a good effort on his part. Going to the right is no problem, but going left is not as easy. That's interesting because in the past, with Toby and PJ, I always had more trouble going right than left. Either I have changed, or Tucker is really opposite to them.
After a reasonable work session in the "iffy" footing, I let him walk on a long rein, and then put him back on contact for some shoulder in work. Once again, he just kind of said, "OK" and did the work.
The only confusion I had was how he felt early on in the ride--almost too "all one piece." To me, he seemed somewhat stiff on the bit. Now, the last person to ride him was Gabriel, so I don't know if Tucker was responding to me as he had to him, or if he just had some body stiffness to work out. I think at the next lesson, I might as Gabriel to ride him, and then get on myself just to see how he feels.
The key to successfully training a horse is, to my mind, learning just exactly how that particular horse feels when he really is going correctly and then discovering how to recreate that feeling over and over with your own riding. Right now, I am not 100% sure how Tucker needs to feel when he is correct, so it is something I need to learn.
Riding horses is an endless education.