One At a Time
I rode Tucker today. I started of with a lot of walking. At first, it was just around the arena, with some large circles and going across the diagonal. Then I moved on, putting him into some contact as we worked on shoulder-in, leg yield from the center line and finally, half pass from the center-line. The half pass creates a change of rein, so I worked first on the left rein and finished up on the right.
From there, still keeping him in a frame and in contact, I circled around the arena a few times and then repeated the lateral exercises. We had a bit of a stall on the leg yield left, but it wasn't disobedience. I'm pretty sure I had too much contact on the left rein, inadvertently blocking his shoulder from the freedom of the lateral movement. Once I gave a bit more with my hand, he was fine.
I finished the trot on the right rein and began a few circuits of the arena with repeated half halts. So it was trot, walk a few strides, trot, hesitate, trot, until I felt him get pretty responsive. Then I half halted and gave the canter cue. Voila!! He took a nice depart.
Now, this may not seem like much, but the previous times I've ridden Tucker lately, he has been very resistant to the canter cue, laying his ears back and threatening to kick out. There wasn't a hint of that.
Analysis? IF indeed he is having hock issues, then today he felt OK. OR he much prefers being asked to canter from within a more balanced frame in contact, then on a loose rein. When I rode him last, at the end of the ride, I was in contact, and in a frame. When I asked for canter at that point, he was good, so perhaps I need to set him up a bit for the depart and put him together so his hind end will step under in a more balanced way. Hard to say, but I intend to experiment. with this. Regardless, both leads were good with no protests of any sort.
Note here, that I always make sure my horses are trained to the aid to canter, regardless of how they are "set up," so asking for a canter on a looser rein is usually not a big deal.
I ended the work session with a very short hack in the woods and Tucker managed to grab a few mouthfuls of nice leaves as a treat.
I left the gate to the woods unchained when I came in, thinking perhaps I'd take Chance out for a hack. I changed my mind, though when I felt my knees a little stiff again and took Tuck in the barn. When I went to feed, I was missing a horse!
Toby had opened the gate and gone out into the woods for a little hike. Funny, though, when he saw the feed buckets, he promptly shoved the gate back open with his nose, trotted back into the arena and made for the barn. Apparently food had precedence over freedom.
The gate is now chained.
All is well at Follywoods.