On Another Lovely Day
Warm and sunny today.
I took advantage of the weather and took a moderately long walk. I should have timed myself but I forgot to wear my watch. I think it was about 30 minutes but I'll do the same route tomorrow in the opposite direction and time it to see. The terrain was uneven with several little hills--nothing dramatic, but enough to make me have to work my legs to get both up and down.
The up is fine, but I am a little cautious on the "down" part, but I think it's just habit from my old, bad knees. Going downhill was always a bit tricky, so I am not as bold as I might be. I don't feel any extra strain or instability in the new knees, so perhaps I don't have to worry, but old habits die hard. I had one bad knee for nearly 50 years, so I have to keep reminding myself things have changed.
Aside from the hills, I kept up a brisk pace, so I hope it will help me get fitter and lose a little weight in the process.
After a bit of a physical rest, I went back out to ride. I just chose Tucker today, because I hadn't ridden him the last time. I warmed him up at the walk on a loose rein and then at a trot on a loose rein, just working on some steering with my weight and legs--no real rein aids. He's pretty sensitive to that, so I was pleased to be able to make some circles and reverses just by shifting my seat.
As we went on, though, he kept reaching for the bit, looking for some contact on his own. Once I gave him my "hand to hold" he increased his pace and engagement and began to work a little more on his own.
I did a few leg yields at the trot, then began some hesitation transitions, first going all the way down to walk before trotting again, and then simply super collecting the trot for a stride or two before going on again. Once we'd established a good rapport with that, I asked for a bit of canter on each lead.
He took the left lead almost immediately on my first cue. I only cantered about 50 strides before transitioning back down. Then I reversed, and asked for right lead. Sticky. He laid his ears back for a moment, but I cued again and he cantered. It's hard to tell if his hocks bother him at all--that was an issue last year before I stopped most of my riding--or if it's just habit. Once he starts cantering, he feels fine, although he does tend to carry his hind end to the inside on the right--a sign of a potential weakness--but the stride is regular. Again, I only did about 50 strides or so before going back to trot.
We finished up with a few trot/halt/reinback/trot transitions, and then I called it a day. I dismounted and set up a low raised pole to lead him over. This is one of the agility exercises, so I led him over it a few times, using the "command" "over" and praising him when he stepped over the pole. By the time I was done, I had the reins looped on his neck and without my touching him or the reins, he stepped over the pole three times for me as I walked alongside--not going over the pole myself.
It was a good exercise to cool him out--it was WARM today and he sweated even with minimal work--and a fun way to establish some more communication with him.