With Tucker's hoof wrapped in Gorilla Tape--seems to hold up, unlike duct tape--and Elastoplast to keep his sole protected and the walls from breaking down, I have the barefoot Chance as my prime riding horse.
Oh, yes, Shannon, Tucker wears bell boots all the time. Not sure they actually keep his shoes on better, but the idea is sound. *sigh*
Anyhow, back to the program. I saddled up Chance for a short workout, every mindful of the fact that he hasn't been ridden in at least a month. I have learned to carry the dressage whip with me mostly because he as several modes of motion, most of which are slow. Very slow. It is honestly amazing how he can practically canter in place with, by the way, really good rhythm. If I every do decide to do some dressage competing with him, I suspect collection will be the least of his problems.
Well, his trot started off rather enthusiastically, so I just let him move on, trying hard to ignore his tendency to bulge out noticeably as we passed the gate out to the woods. Though tempted, I decided to stick to the arena for the day, just working on the basics.
And what are the basics with Chance? He walks, trots, and canters correctly on both leads, and he steers with relative accuracy, so those basics are done. He walks with his head in a nice stretchy frame, and will actually transition from walk to trot without using his head for balance. But in between, mostly at the trot, he is unsteady about both his frame and his pace. However, all that being said, I must admit that each time I do ride him, the previous lessons do seem to stick. A very slight give and take on the outside rein is usually all it takes to get him back into a training level frame. But I do need to be quicker to fix his stiffening before it gets to that point.
I don't want to "play" the reins every stride, and I do want to reward his correct carriage by being soft, so I really need to focus on the exact moment I need to make a slight correction before things go so awry that the slight correction has to be "less than slight."
Much of it is his balance. He likes to "lead with his shoulder," particularly on the left rein. That seems to be his stronger side, with the right rein as his hollow side. That's why I often find my own seat slipping to the right when I ride him. He tends to "drop me into the well" he creates when his right hind doesn't track quite straight under his body, but slightly to the outside (left) in taking a weaker stride.
In his defense, that right hind is the one he has some problem with, so as we go along, I will be doing exercises to help him get stronger. For now, it's mostly my job to ride straight myself and keep asking him to try to do so as well.
The good news was that I really didn't feel much difference at the trot on either rein. That may be different today if his right hind is tired from the first ride, but again, it is something that in the past seems to work out as he gets fit.
His canter was lovely on both reins, with the right lead a little "softer." This may well be his biggest improvement over time as he used to really rush on the right lead.
After I finished the schooling session, I took him on a two minute ride through the front paddocks. He was very confused by this. I've never ridden him around his turnout area and he was just sure I simply could not mean to do such a silly thing. He stopped several times to question me, but behaved well otherwise. It's not even half an acre, so we are talking a mini mini mini hack here. *lol* It was just enough to cool him down after the ride and allow me to take him back into the barn at the front door.
Going to go for a swim today and, if the weather holds--storms predicted--I'll try to get another ride in as well.