After much debate on the best, safest way to reintroduce the four-foots to one another, we closed off one pasture, leaving the boys with access to two and the lot. Amyra will have her own space for a few days.
And thankfully, we were smart enough to do this before we left, because it was dark when we got home.
I had a lesson scheduled, and T would work with Amyra in the other end of the arena while I rode. Thunder would stand and guard the trailer - far better than leaving him home to run the fences!
We pulled in to Eric's place early - which was fine with me, as Sunny was still sporting some mud from the other day's rain. I'd have plenty of time to get him cleaned up, let Thunder scope out his new surroundings, and maybe even catch a bit of the lesson before mine. But by the time I had Sunny saddled, the arena was empty. T and Eric were in the barn getting Amyra ready, so I even got to warm up. Not that it helped much.
I ache this morning. Even though I've been riding a lot more regularly this summer, it's a whole different ball of wax having someone calling out corrections for all your sloppy habits! On the plus side, Sunny's doing far better than last year. He's starting to collect and round his back for short periods - especially when I manage to stop flailing around and lock my elbows and release with my fingers and breathe and stop being stiff in my back and keep my shoulders back and roll my hips down and lift through my rib cage and.... you get the picture.
When we finally got to the canter portion of the lesson, left lead was fairly pretty for a change - yes, he actually picked up the left lead. And maintained it. The right was not nearly so nice, which surprised me. He'd pick it up, take about five strides, and collapse into a trot. We worked on it until I could keep him there and transition him down intentionally, but it was still pretty yucky.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the arena...
T and Amyra are still sorting one another out. She's extremely light and quick. VERY responsive, and still green enough to get flustered easily. Eric was keeping an eye on the two of them, and would occasionally call out a suggestion. While Sunny was getting a stretching break, he traded places with T and showed us both what he's been working on with her, explaining cues and what he expects from each, and what to do if she doesn't respond to the cue. He'd showed T the other night, but he wanted me to see as well. Then he had T get back on and go through the same series of exercises. T got the same litany of reminders I did, and annoyingly enough, remembered and put them into practice better - GRRRR!
Then it was my turn again. Since Sunny's stepping under behind more consistently, we worked on getting him to lift his shoulders and lighten in front. Which also involves me remembering to sit deep into my pockets and not lean forward. Engage the walk, get a nice round transition to sitting trot and maintain on a half-arena circle, and round transition down to a walk, lather, rinse, repeat... While I worked on that, he switched his attention back to T and Amyra, calling out reminders to me from time to time.
It was about two hours of work, spotted with stretching breaks for the horses while Eric explained what he was looking for and what he was seeing. It didn't take long before T and Amyra were starting to function more as a team rather than two opposing forces. The riding Sunny's been getting showed, too - even though he was working, he wasn't all that sweaty when we finished up. Amyra, on the other hand, was soaked, but I think some of that was her initial anxiety over the different rider.
Thunder spent the time relatively patiently by the trailer. Eric thought he'd make an impressive hunter if he lived up to how he's put together. -Poor Sunny - wonder what he's actually built for! LOL!
Even in the dark, all three horses were happy to load up. At the farm we turned Amyra out, and then walked the boys up to the main gate to put them in. They had a long drink and then moseyed on out - all three of them were grazing quietly when we left.. No snorting, squealing or fussing across the fence, which was a lovely bonus of two of them being tuckered out already.