And I Ride Again
I went out this afternoon to school both Tucker and Chance. The weather was really lovely, the footing a bit wet from the rain, but otherwise, it was a perfect day for a ride.
Tucker was first. He started out with a very lazy walk and almost felt stiff at first. But as soon as we trotted, I knew he was fine, just a bit "underpowered." I don't usually push my horses at first. Even though they have virtually 24-7 turnout, I never quite know what they've been doing in the time before I get on, so I always just let them warm up in an easy frame and at an easy gait.
As we went along, Tucker just naturally started to seek the bit, offer his back, and go more forward. As I did the last time I rode him, I decided that canter departs without any fuss on his part were the "exercise of the day." I asked for several from the trot and each time, they were soft and without protest. Essentially, he just "flowed" into each one. This is not the fully engaged depart demanded of more serious dressage work, but it was obedient and prompt to a light aid, so all was well.
We did a bit more trot work and then relaxed into a nice walk for a breather. I am sensitive to the fact that he is not super fit, so I just try to take it easy during the ride. We walked for a circuit or two and then I tried the ultimate test--walk canter transitions. On each lead, he cantered easily off without pinning his ears or showing any sign of resistance. Not a big deal for the average horse, but for Tucker, at this stage of getting back to work? A major accomplishment. I gave him lots of praise, a nice pat and finished up the session on that good note.
I rode Chance next and spent a good long time in the walk. I decided to challenge him with shoulder-in and leg yield--exercises we've not really worked on before. I have given him the basics of moving off my leg, so that was a big help. On the left rein, it was actually pretty easy to get a semblance of shoulder-in and a rather nice leg yield from the center line to the rail.
The right rein was a little bit harder for us both. My right leg is a little weaker right now and I am having a bit of pain in my right hip which doesn't help. I reseated myself in the saddle so I was a bit "longer" on the right side as I worked, and eventually we got some fairly good efforts at shoulder in and then the leg yield.
Then we trotted for a while and Chance was quite ready, willing and able to reach down and round into the bit. I cantered him for a short bit on each lead and then headed out for a short hack through the woods.
It was a nice way to cool him out and finish the ride with a smile on both out faces.