T dropped me off with saddle, etc. just before 8 a.m., and headed on over to meet J and collect Rufus & Bubbles.
When I brought Sunny up from the back pasture none of the herd came along, so he had to stand at the fence by himself - poor baby, grin - and wait until T & J pulled in. He wasn't terribly pleased, but other than whinnying a few times waited fairly patiently.
M stayed home, so no one had to walk/lead and we headed out at a brisk trot. Sunny tossed in a couple of crowhops - twit! But - touch wood - he hasn't ever figured out that to be effective he has to drop his head, and a slap on the neck discouraged him after the second buck. And after a mile of steady trotting he was settled and ready to behave himself.
It was a perfect day for riding - good stiff breeze to clear the bugs, the clouds blew away as we rode, and it stayed fairly cool. After the last week of 90's, 60' this morning actually felt almost chilly.
We did a fair amount of trotting and a couple of nice long stretches of loping. Sunny has a lovely long trot, so since T wanted to practice picking up leads with Rufus, I'd long trot out in front a ways and drop to a walk. T & J would jog until I was a ways up in front, then lope up past me. We leapfrogged along talking turns leading and following and being in the middle.
One thing I really hate about riding with a large group: often you have people that race up behind you and past you - or into you. And it seems like when there are a lot of riders there's always someone that's going to do that, regardless of how rude and dangerous it is.
It's horrible manners.
But knowing that it happens, it's not a bad thing to practice having other riders pass you at a different gait in a controlled fashion so at least when it happens in a larger group you've had a chance to judge how your horse reacts. At this point Sunny is content to flick an ear back to listen to the horses catching up without getting all worked up about it. There were a few rides when he was younger that he got used as a brake pad for riders who couldn't stop their horses. It's - a bit more than - mildly annoying.
A few miles in with J in the lead we were all lopeing along steadily. He warned us, then opened Bubbles up and really let her fly. Sunny wasn't terribly pleased to be rated to a steady gallop - he wanted to catch her, darn it!
And tossed in another couple of bucks to express his disgust with being held. Again, TWIT! He got swatted for his trouble and behaved for the rest of the ride.
He has yet to buck hard, but I'm happy he's grown into my old nickel-spotted saddle so I don't have to keep using the lighter Arab-treed Simco. I can sink right down into the seat on the spotted one and stay solid. For whatever reason I've never felt secure in the Simco, and it wasn't just on Sunny. Not sure why....
But I have ordered a slightly longer cinch - I'm just not riding often enough for Sunny to loose his grass pudge, and even though the latigo stays snug, I like having a bit of tail left to tuck through the cinch knot.
We covered not quite 8 miles, finishing up just before noon. No pictures - I remembered to tie the cantle bag on, so I had binoculars, tissues and chapstick, but I forgot to put the camera in. Sigh... maybe next week.