He Was A Good Boy
I rode Tucker in the arena for at least 20 minutes. The goal is still mostly fitness. I have a feeling if I am going to get him back into a good dressage frame it's going to take some work. At this point I honestly don't know if it's worth it.
On the other hand, I do want to see if he can master the flying change, so that will require some elements of basic on the bit and collection. I really am not interested in competing, so however we go will be just fine. But I do know that the dressage and suppling will be physically good for him no matter what.
At any rate, after some nice schooling in which we did shoulder-in, leg yield and some pretty nice half-pass at the trot, and a good number of trot/canter/trot transitions, I decided to go out for the short trail ride.
Tucker was a good boy with minimal tension. The woods trail now requires a number of extra turns an detours where it was once a clear trail. What a blessing to have a big horse that steers really well. I hope to expand the trails we use as time goes on, but the bugs will dictate some of that. So far the flies/mosquitoes are not really biting, so the ride was just fine. I do have the bug armor for him to wear as the season progresses, so we'll just see if we can keep it up.
After I rode him, I collected Toby--who did not run away--and lunged him for all of perhaps two minutes. We did five circles on the right at the trot, five circles on the left, and then stopped.
What is wonderful to see is how sound and lovely Toby's trot is. I see no signs of any stiffness in his gait. He has always had a nice trot with good spring and overstride. His big problem in moving up the levels was that his neck is set level on his body instead more upright. So getting the balance to his hind end and getting him really off his forehand was a lot of work. And, all the half halts and balancing exercises put a strain on his hind end beyond what was natural for him. That's one of the reasons I retired him from competition. It just wasn't fair to push him. He did compete in Intermediare I, so that was good, but I could tell it was hard on him.
Now, he is 23 and looks to be very sound. I'm glad. I will ride him a bit this year, but he has earned a nice retirement.