Two Horses Under Saddle
I rode Tucker and Chance in the arena for about 30 minutes each, mostly at the walk. With Tucker, the idea was to loosen his hind end with lots of leg yields, shoulder ins, and walk pirouettes. Of all the exercises, the walk pirouettes need the most work as if I use too much rein to control the lateral/forward steps, he tends to shut down and stop stepping behind. So it's a delicate balance to keep his forward momentum while asking him to step sideways with his front feet as his hind feet keep marching in place. Interestingly enough, he is much better going to the right than he is going to the left where he gets "sticky."
When I asked for a bit of trot, he laid his ears back and didn't want to go. Again, interesting. Once he trotted a bit, he was fine and even let me put him on the bit for a circle or two. I don't know whether he was anticipating something uncomfortable or actually did feel some pain somewhere. The important thing is that he worked through it and seemed quite happy about it in the end.
Canter to the right was another story, so I reversed, cantered left just fine, then crossed the diagonal, changed rein, trotted and picked up the right lead with no problem. we didn't even complete a full circuit of the arena on either lead as I know full well he is not at all fit, but I did need to test him to see where we stand. He feels fine once he's going, but the "engine start" is just not there. Sore hocks? Maybe. I'll see how things go as he gets more fit.
With Chance I focused mainly on "straight" and even to both reins and under my seat. He shifts his weight from one side to the other under me so I constantly need to be aware of keeping myself perfectly even left to right. Sometimes I fall victim to using the reins to correct him but I really need to work more with my weight instead.
After a little trot and canter just to evaluate how he felt--just a tiny bit of weakness in his right hind, but relaxed and pretty even canters on both leads--I started teaching him leg yield at the walk. Either I introduced this to him before, or he is a fast learner, because it only took two tries to get him moving laterally off my leg. I then added a little intro to shoulder-in--not quite as easy and decided to finish with a bit of work on the reinback.
Well, that was a challenge. Rein cue, seat cue, leg cue, voice cue, and no response except to kind of stand there, planted on the ground. One thing about Chance is that unlike many horses I've ridden, he doesn't always experiment with reactions when you put an aid on. He seems to be the kind of horse that shuts off his brain and reactions when he doesn't understand. So I waited while he stood there and then, he took a tiny step back. I rewarded him by dropping the rein completely. We got a few more steps that way and I dismounted to work him on backing from the ground. It started well and then, once again he just kind of "shut off." Either I'd pushed him past his limit of concentration or he'd just decided he was done. At that point, I gave him a bit of a swat just to make him move his feet somewhere. He startled, came back into focus and took the few steps back that I wanted. I quit immediately and brought him in for a carrot and a grooming.
Looks like I need to work on increasing his attention span or else simply figure out just how much he can do before he gets too tired mentally or physically to continue on.
This could be the significant difference between a warmblood and a Thoroughbred. Usually, the TB's I've trained don't tend to stop doing things altogether when they reach their limit of learning--although Tucker does quit and simply refuse to go. Chance does not swish his tail, lay his ears back or even dance around. He just stops and acts as if I'm not even there. Tucker will threaten, stomp, try to bite my leg, or act is if he's going to buck when he quits and I keep pushing. I must admit, I kind of like Chance's attitude better.
But we'll see how it goes as time passes. Maybe I 'll change my mind.