And I Ride Two on a Sunday
I rode both Tucker and Chance today. The weather was lovely and the flies left us alone. What more could anyone want?
Tucker seemed quite pleased to be chosen first, and was at least moderately cooperative at the start of the ride. For him, that simply means walking on without any fuss. Of course, that was on a loose rein. When I picked up the contact a little, he hesitated, but then cooperated with a little less energy than I want from him.
But, I always like to give my horse the benefit of the doubt at the start of a ride in case muscles and joints need to warm up a little before he can be expected to start moving out as he really needs to to work well. Having ridden Chance twice before finally getting back aboard the newly shod Tucker, I must admit I truly appreciate the correct steering obedience Tucker offers in contrast. What I don't always appreciate is his tendency to think about protesting if I push a little extra with my leg or the whip. A light tap of the whip might make him flatten his ears and threaten to kick out. I usually correct that with a sharp verbal reprimand and then he goes on as asked, but his attitude is "all about Tucker" at times like that.
The same goes for the first time I ask him to canter. So, after about a twenty minute session of general schooling and the riding of a pretend training level test, I focused on some right lead canter departs, one after another, simply expecting him to respond willingly and at once to the aid without any kind of "buck threat" or "attitude." After three lovely departs, I immediately let him walk, gave him a pat and dismounted.
I always consider that his hocks may be bothering him, because he has had some soreness before and may even have some arthritis there, so the first canter depart may actually be a little uncomfortable for him. But if that's so, he certainly overcomes it quickly, and offers some nice quiet departs soon after.
With Chance, it's quite the opposite. He would much rather canter than trot with good, forward impulsion. So, I worked on trotting with him, concentrating on repeated figure eights with a nice change of bend in the middle. Unlike Tucker, he does not yet move laterally off my leg into the new outside rein on a change of rein, so I used the dressage whip to help reinforce that by just pushing it against his inside shoulder to help him understand how to respond to my leg.
He caught on pretty quickly and, while going from right to left was a bit harder for him, he did give me some nice changes of bend. More work needs doing, but it was a good start.
Ironically, his reward as some canter work. We did a bit on each lead and called it quits after about 20-25 minutes.
Once again, I am not asking for dynamic, on the bit, strong work from either Boy, so it's all about the basics which will allow me to shape and develop correct muscling and strength as their fitness and mine progress.
All in all, another good day in the saddle.