It was a cool, rainy day again, and this time when I went out to feed, I couldn't resist doing something.
Ironically, Toby seemed particularly cuddly and I caught him first. I put the halter on him and took him out for a short lunge. Ever mindful that he hasn't done any work in weeks, I only worked him for about five minutes. I'd set up a little trotting pole about 8 inches off the ground, and had him go over that at the trot and canter several times. There is nothing more to say when it comes to lungeing Toby. He is always practically perfect in every way.
By then, Tucker had decided he wanted some attention, so I haltered him, took him inside, and, on a whim, decided to ride. How nice to have the confidence to just get on after so many weeks of no work at all. Tuck walked right off, no fuss no bother. His initial trot was not exactly forward, but I eased him along, just asking him to step a little more into the rein contact. I trotted him over the pole as well, just letting him figure out where to put his feet.
Then, we had an almost "naughty" when I put my leg on to ask for a little more forward and he laid his ears back. Then he sidled into my leg as if to kick out at it, anticipating a rather ugly canter resistance. I pushed him through to the outside rein with my inside leg and we trotted on.
Then, I decided we were going to have to canter, "just because." Sure enough, he gave a bit of a kick to my leg, nothing big, and then cantered off on the right lead, nice as you please. I didn't do much, and I certainly wasn't asking him to exert himself. Work on the left lead was good at the trot, and the canter started off with a soft depart and no real fuss at all.
For the big finish I did a leg yield on each rein at the trot and then worked into half pass on each rein. The leg yields were spot on, the half passes about half of what they need to be, but still obedient. Then I halted, asked for a few steps of a lovely reinback and quit for the day. All in all, it was a short but fun ride.
Chance was totally interested in doing something next so I saddled him up. As usual, he tried to head for the gate out to the woods, but he gave that up pretty quickly and settled in for some decent work. I say "decent" mostly because he was obedient, but rather erratic to the rein. On the other hand, his head was down, rather then up, and when I worked the outside rein a little, he did start to reach for the bit. Considering that we were only just starting to get some consistency before I stopped riding him a long while back, I certainly cant expect perfection after such a long layoff.
But, to his credit, the canter on both reins was really relaxed and balanced. The left lead is expected, but the right one was a pleasant surprise. He used to rush along, out of balance. Today? Easy, relaxed and controlled-- a huge improvement, and a bit of a surprise.
My knees didn't feel too bad when I was in the saddle, but I'd probably not be able to ride long enough to get a real schooling session in. I guess I'll know better tomorrow.
Meantime, it was carrots all around for the Boys who clearly deserved every bite.