Things Settle Down
Today was sunny, warm and calm--quite a change from yesterday.
I went out around 2 PM, and with my pocket full of treats, immediately attracted the attention of the little herd. All three horses came in from the pasture and, a bit to my surprise, Toby led the way right up to me, even though I had a halter and lead rope in my hand. I gave him a few treats, slipped the halter over his head and took him into the barn.
I gave him a nice grooming, brushing off quite a bit of shedding hair. It seems early to me, but all three Boys are shedding their winter coats. I thought shedding was triggered more by the length of daylight rather than temperature, but I'm beginning to think it might be a combination of both.
I fastened the lunge line on Toby's halter and took him out to the arena for a short lungeing session. Since he hasn't had an real work for quite some time, I kept it short. But, as always, I was delighted to see him move out with nice loose strides, and good sound gaits. He's 22 years old and doesn't show any sign of soundness issues. He does deserve to be retired, but I suppose I will work him a little now and then. But I do have to be fair and not ask for too much. If he's not really fit, I have to be careful.
Another day proved the right one for Tucker. He was quiet and calm.
I appreciated Muriel's suggestion about lungeing first, but as a rule, I don't. Particularly with a Thoroughbred, and Tucker especially, lungeing does not necessarily work the horse down. It might be a way of assessing the horse's attitude that day, but again, with Tucker, it's not much of a measure. He may play up on the lunge line and be just fine under saddle, or vice versa. Chance is another story, but lungeing him would just take any edge off and tire him out. He's pretty consistent when I ride, so I don't worry too much about him.
My horses are turned out all day and all night if they so choose, so it's not quite the same as taking a horse out of a stall and needing to take the edge off before riding them.
Anyhow, Tucker didn't need any special handling today at all. We warmed up for a while at the walk, then moved into a nice trot. It took a few times around before he started offering to go forward without too much urging on my part. I just asked him to stretch into the bit, tending to be round without too much serious "on the bit," beyond that. We did some nice suppling exercises--serpentines, shoulder-in, half pass, transitions--and then I did some canter on each lead. I decided mostly to focus on my seat, rather than worry about what Tucker was doing.
I still can't quite figure out what I'm doing when I fall over to the right, but I did find that by dropping my left knee and concentrating on where that leg was, my seat stayed more even. I think what I may be doing is shortening my left leg as my right leg slips back a little. (I think Muriel may have said something like that.) At any rate, as long as I thought about it, I stayed straight. Now I just have to get back to not having to think about it so I can ride the horse instead of focusing on myself.
I finished up riding Chance. I used the full cheek single link snaffle again and he seemed fine in it. For now, it's the bit of choice. He is a little uneven on the left rein, when his right hind is on the outside and I have to work to get his gait even. Some of it is due to his being a little stiffer in that direction. He drops his shoulder to the inside and the outside hind leg shortens the stride. This may be because he's a bit uncomfortable on that leg, but if I ride to correct it, I can.
What he does need it to be more fit and that will come with regular work. Curiously, his canter is quite nice on both leads, so that's a plus as in the past he had trouble taking the right lead.
I finished with walk/trot transitions on both reins, simply asking him to stretch into the bit and stay there going from walk to trot. Three nice transitions on each rein proved a worthy goal and it didn't take long to get them. Once again, he was a good boy.
I left the herd naked for the time being as it was really quite warm when I finished up. But we are supposed to have rain showers tonight, so I guess the sheets will have to go back on.
The last thing I want are cold, wet horses after such a nice day of effort from all three.