I debated long and hard, but finally decided to take this week's lesson on Sunny instead of one of E's horses. Since Sunny's outside all winter and it's too cold to clip, I want to get at least a few lessons in before it gets too cold to have him sweaty and hot. (Not that he sweated much yesterday!)
I popped him in the trailer and headed over to Mt. Vernon. Arrived to a yard full of cars and trailers - a busier weekend, which was nice, as I got to watch part of the lesson before mine and all of the one after. Saddleseat, but still highly educational.
Sunny was a bit fidgety, but more alert than anxious since he's been there before. E has a pair of young German Shorthairs, and as I saddled one of them presented the two of us with a fresh deer leg.. yum!, NOT. Yet again I'm thankful Sunny lives with sheep (sorry if it's callous, but sheep seem to die a fair amount)l.
We hadn't gotten much chance to practice, but I'd worked on bending and asking him to step under himself more, and E said he could already see some improvement. The lesson proceeded much as the previous two, with more work on bending and counter-bending. Counter-bending is HARD. But we're improving, if only a tiny bit. Still, progress is progress.
And more turning on the haunches and then just moving the hips. Asking him to move just his back end is something I've actually worked on a fair amount, and Sunny remembered - it was nice to do something correctly! Moving just his shoulders wasn't quite as pretty, so we'll continue to work on that.
Then we worked on cantering. Which last time was terrible. While this time it was better, if only because he didn't fall on his nose, it still needs work.
BUT, I did manage one nice upward transition, and a couple better downward ones. Our biggest issue is falling out of gait after about three strides. Partly me, partly him. I automatically drop forward into two-point, and since he's already heavy in front.... When I remember to sit up and deep and breathe, we do much better. And he didn't try to run out, buck, or do anything seriously squirrelly - not that he's ever done that, but then, we've never had much focused arena time, either.
E offered to let me come practice with Sunny on Fridays if the arena's free, and I think I'm going to take him up on it. And he's going to check into a possible ride for me up north so I'll have a chance to practice what I'm learning during the week. Don't know if that will pan out, but it was still a nice feeling to hear he'd suggest that someone else let me ride their horse.
Post-ride I headed over for a trail ride with C, and we moseyed about 4 miles. As the day faded, the wind picked up and it cooled off quite a bit - the horses were looky, but more interested than leery. We did short collecting and softening sessions as we rode, trying to work some of the hollow out of his trot. I can definitely tell the difference when he steps under himself more - getting his nose tucked in and his backend up under himself even slightly is a vast improvement.
Sunday is worming and de-bot-fly-egging now that we've finally had a hard freeze. Maybe another ride, if the weather cooperates. :)