And I Love A Day Off
Hard to believe that in a matter of less than three months, I will be retired. and every day will have the potential to be like today.
To start off with, the weather was perfect. Despite the fact that my neck was bothering me again, I fed the Boys in the morning and came back in to just hang out for a while. I fell back asleep, which was good, ate lunch, and then headed out to the barn.
Since there was no sound of ATV's anywhere, I decided it was perfect for some riding in the woods. As before, Toby was quite willing to be caught, so I brought him in, saddled up, and soon we were out for a nice hack. Because the ground and footing were really good with no mud, we trotted nearly the full length of the road along the field, all the way to the area of the flooding. It is, thank goodness, dry back there but we didn't ride the long way around and instead headed back through the woods. Lovely, lovely. Lovely weather, lovely horse, lovely ride.
I opted for Tucker next and to my surprise, as soon as I was in the saddle, he too headed for the gate out to the woods, clearly letting me know he wanted to go out too. I rode him in the arena for a little while first. I am concentrating on getting him to always think "forward" no matter what. We had a couple little issues where, when I put my aid on to get him to do a quarter pirouette, he stopped, but once he figured out exactly what I wanted, he was fine.
After some trot/canter transitions, I decided, just for the heck of it to try some half steps. This was how Lockie Richards introduced piaffe. The idea is to, for a few strides, super collect the trot so the horse is still keeping the trot rhythm but only stepping forward about a half stride, or less. Once again, Tuck stopped the first time, then figured it out and, sure enough, gave me about five really good efforts. Once, he actually trotted right in place for three or four strides, a baby piaffe! I praised him mightily so he knew he was doing the right thing and headed out to the woods. We rode the "Tucker Trail" to perfection and he seemed really bouncy and happy to be out there.
The best was yet to come as I saddled up Chance. I figured this weekend the ATV's will be out in full force so he needed to go out on a hack too. I took the same trail I took Toby on but it was even better. I started Chance off on a trot along the field. He stretched out into a soft, long, trot and then kind of rolled into a really nice, controlled and utterly comfortable canter. What easy gaits he has! The canter was so nice to ride and, when I asked him to come back before we reached the downhill section, he was completely responsive. His head was a little up, but he never fought the rein and came right back to me.
We headed into the woods trail for the way back and he was just walking out with a nice bounce in his stride. Somewhere along the way, it hit me that I haven't had that kind of fun on a horse in a while. Toby is an experienced trail horse, but he will spook unexpectedly at things, so I am always a little wary when I am out on him. Tucker?? Well, the less said the better, but he is not exactly a relaxing ride either. With Chance, I get that old, "Let's just have some fun," feeling. It encourages adventuring and trying new things. A little more training to fully establish his contact on the bit and I won't hesitate taking him out anywhere to ride. It's been a while since I've had that kind of horse.
So, for each one, a special place in my heart.
The duet went really well last night. Now I have a small solo part for Easter morning--two services, one at 8:30 AM, and on at 10:30 AM. Then I have the full week off to do whatever I want!