I'm going to stop trusting the weather forecasts if this doesn't keep up - not that I'm complaining, mind - but the last two times we've had a "chance of snow/rain" it's been beautiful, sunny and perfect.
It wasn't exactly balmy, but the high was near 50' rather than the measly 43' that was predicted - and I'm not going to complain about that, either!
It was about as warm as it was going to get by 2 pm, so I dug around in various bins and containers of tack until I eventually unearthed my spurs, hitched up the horse trailer and headed for the farm. The boys were loafing under their tree. They stuck their heads into the halters without any hesitation, although I have to say Thunder was a lot more eager to walk down the driveway to the trailer!
After cleaning hooves and a cursory brush to loosen some dust - they're both clean and fluffy in their new winter coats - I saddled Sunny, who was not thrilled but also not prepared to make an issue of it. In the western saddle, just in case things got... well, western. Then I let him stand and deflate while I opened the pasture gate and set a cone out in the center so I'd have a visual marker other than "tall generic weed" to spiral in and out on. Then I warmed up his bit for a minute or so and bridled him.
Confession time... I've never actually ridden him with spurs. He's usually got more than enough go for my taste when we're trail riding. And I don't know if D used them on him when he trained him or not. My guess would be not, as he doesn't tend to use either a bat or spurs unless he gets one that refuses to move out forward, and that's never been an issue with Sunny.
Now Eric's instructions were clear - nubby, knob-ended spurs. But those aren't exactly thick on the ground around here. I ended up having to order some, and they haven't arrived yet. The ones I have do have a rowel, but it's small, blunt, and very non-aggressive, so I figured I'd give them a shot and see how it went.
And actually, all things considered it went well. Once he realized that I had something pointy attached to my heel, transitions were much more prompt. And for the most part he stayed cantering until I asked for a downward transition, rather than falling out on his own. Not to say he wasn't still poking his nose out trotting, but it felt a lot better than last week's Thursday ride. So perfect, no - but improved respect yes. And I was doing my best to cue, bump, then tap with a spur, not just go straight for the gusto.
Other than a few rounds of canter for improved energy both directions, I stuck to low & slow and lots of bending again, doing my best to keep my shoulders back and my elbows locked at my sides - not sure how successful that was, but at least I remembered to keep checking on it.
Sidepassing down the fence was a shade better, too. He's getting the idea well to the right, not so much to the left, which is also the direction he has a harder time counter-bending to reverse in, so that wasn't a big surprise.
All told about an hour's riding.
After I had Sunny unsaddled and the sweaty spots curried, I saddled Thunder. With my saddle this time, rather than the light one I've been using on him. Not that mine is all that much heavier, but it is longer and it has a back cinch. I left that on the loose side, snapped some reins onto the rings on his rope halter, and walked him out into the field.
I worked on getting him to give his head to both sides for a while, and then on putting weight in both stirrups. He was fine with that, so I got brave and laid across his back. No problems there, either. I probably could have sat on him, but at that point brave seemed to be shading into stupid territory, so I called it an afternoon. Maybe once his wolf teeth are out, and he's actually aware of what giving to the bit means. And following some ground driving. And not when no one's home.
Anyway, that was my day - and I'm going to consider it a success. Happy Tuesday!