It was kind of hot today, but not humid so I was pretty tolerable. Still I waited until evening to ride.
I'd kept the poles in the arena and the little jump, but "someone" had dismantled everything during the night. I went out first, reset the poles and moved the little jump to a better location. About five minutes later, Chance went into the arena and took the jump back apart, scattering the poles and blox all over the place. Ah, well.
I saddled Tucker up first and started off with some really nice flat work. He was quite willingly round, had a nice forward trot and, at least on the left rein, a good canter and counter canter. The right lead was a little problematic when I tried the counter canter as he kept breaking, but some hissing and determination on my part eventually got him all the way 'round the arena twice on the counter lead, so I left it alone for the day.
The trotting pole work was nice and clean, despite the distraction of a visiting rooster from my neighbor's house. The bird was exploring the far end of the arena but to his credit, Tucker just kept an eye on him while he kept on working as I asked. I'd lowered the little jump to only about a foot, but Tuck still jumped it instead of stepping over.
Chance was next, and I was really pleased with him. His head went down immediately and all through his trot work, he stayed in a nice little frame. The canter was not quite as steady and his head came up, but I think that's still how he tries to keep his balance. Since the gait is pretty irregular, with varied impulsion and some quickness in the corners, I figure he just needs some practice and repetition to learn how to canter in the frame. I don't believe in working too hard to hold a horse up or together when he's learning how to carry a rider as it's something he needs to figure out on his own.
I think it was V. Littaur who wrote extensively about letting the green horse stabilize himself when he was first under saddle. He advocated riding on a relatively loose rein, giving the horse its head and neck to learn its own balance. I'm not quite that free with my youngsters as I do like to be able to steer, but I don't tend to hold them up or hold them together.
What I like about how Chance is going right now is that he is seeking the bit on his own at the walk and trot, quite willing to stretch down into the contact. The canter will come quickly.
Toby got a carrot even though I didn't work him. He deserves one just for being Toby.