On A Dry Morning At Last
I rode this morning around 7 AM or so. I took Tucker out with only his fly mask on and that lasted all of a minute as he started fussing about some fly somewhere on him. So I went back in the barn and dressed him in the bug armor. That seemed to please him because he went right in to work.
Taking a cue from Mark Rashid (thanks, Kate) I decided to ride the horse I wanted instead of the horse I expected. I also had my spurs on, so Tucker noticed my cues much more quickly. He's one of those horses who just needs the little extra persuasion to respond sometimes. You don't need to use the spurs at all, but having them on makes him think a little more positively.
I was a pretty good school as he only thought of stopping about twice and I didn't need to do much to get him going again. Most of the time it was a combination of my giving too much of a half halt into the walk from the canter, and a bit of his falling on the forehand in the downward. No biggie since we haven't practiced the simple transitions for a while. More interesting was his desire to jog instead of walk on some walk/trot/walk transitions. This I ignored because he stayed forward into the contact, and kept himself ready to move right off again. I do not want to punish or correct him in any way for a forward response during the rides.
He was, though "sticky' on his left lead canter, prefering to go a bit more up and down than forward and when I tried some ten meter circles on that lead, he stalled. As well on the left lead, he was dropping out on his right shoulder so that, eventually, I began doing some "square corners" turning him well off the right rein to bring his shoulder around first. He wasn't too keen on that, so I'm not sure if his hind end is a little weak or a little sore. He is quite willing to so most everything else and is not protesting the canter departs, so I am suspecting is it just a weakness that needs some time to strengthen up.
Of course it didn't help that I was sitting too much on my right seat bone as well, so we both need to do some corrective work. He did give me some typical Tucker attitude a few times including one strange almost bucky canter depart on the right lead with his front end coming up in the air. I'm not sure what that was all about, but he is a very strange horse to ride. Then again, I was trying to ride him as if he was "normal" and will continue to do so, so I might just need to expect some unusual repsonses.
I decided to ride Chance and, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at the improvement. I have long lined him a few times instead of riding and if that was the source of the difference, I will definitely have to keep it up. He was much softer to the rein on the right especially. His trot was nicely forward and he was accepting some contact with a "give" in his jaw and poll. I didn't ask for stretch down unless he offered, but he was giving me a little frame and showed some good balance.
Both canter leads were good although the left is still a big better. It is easier to keep him forward on the left without his rushing. On the right lead, if I push him forward so he doesn't break, sometimes he tends to run a little. But, it is so much better, I won't complain.
Chance was kind of cute because when I put the bug armor on him and mounted up in the arena, he immediately headed for the gate out into the woods. I hadn't sprayed him with any Mosquito Halt, so I didn't dare risk a hack out there. That seems to be the only "flavor" of big spray that keeps both the mosquitoes and dreadful deer flies at bay. Maybe I'll try a ride out there with him later in the week, as I know how much he loves it.
Toby made it clear he had no interest in doing anything, which was fine because by then I was sweaty and tired and my knees ached. He got a nice fat carrot anyhow, so I don't think he felt left out of the loop.
Nice bit of work then. Not perfect, by any means, but I will keep it up and see just how far I can get convincing Tucker he is as normal as Chance. *LOL*