Has it really been two weeks since I've ridden Sunny? Yikes.... maybe longer than that.
And he let me know it. 50' with a blustery breeze had the trees bobbing and stray leaves blowing hither and yon. Sunny thought he should go with them. He hesitated just long enough for me to step on and catch my stirrup, then foraged out into a hollow-backed trot. Okay, sparky, if that's really how you want to roll, I can work with it. I kept him moving, gradually asking him to round up. Competition for his attention was fierce - he tucked his butt and scooted ahead when the loose license plate on the horse trailer banged and had no interest in slowing down. He even popped forward into a few canter strides, which bless his lazy little heart is practically unheard of. No hunch or buck, though.
We did big circles, small circles, serpentines and figure-eights, and gradually I could feel him starting to listen. His ears were still flicking back and forth, and he wanted to drop his shoulder and dart away from the sporadically banging license plate, but what the heck - energy is good, right?
Round as he is and as little exercise as he's gotten, it didn't take too long before he was puffing a bit and wanting to slow down. Once he'd decided to listen and focus on me, I gave him a breather as a reward, letting him stretch and walk ahead on a loose rein. Then we worked on transitions. I wanted to see how consistently I could keep him nice and round from walk to trot and back. For variety, I threw in some sitting trot/working trot.
It wasn't always pretty, but I think there were a few really nice ones in there. A video camera would be HUGE - I want to see what we're doing!
Walk/canter was harder - we were both getting a bit tired, and I could feel my lower leg starting to get sloppy, but the compressed moments were briefer. I think part of the issue is that I've been releasing the canter cue before he's actually done anything, instead of holding/increasing the pressure until he does what I'm asking. Nothing like confusing the heck out of him, but he's doing pretty well for a guinea pig.
I'd intended to work on two-point, but since he was still tossing the occasional scoot and dive at me, I decided not to try it after all. I wasn't worried about coming off, but as wobbly as I get even when he's steady under me, I didn't want to risk clipping him in the mouth if (when) he found something to startle at. The rest of the week is supposed to be just as nice weather-wise, so maybe tomorrow.
Instead, I wrapped up with some trot/halt/back. It's amazing how well whoa works when your pony's tired!
Sunny cocked a hip and heaved a big sigh when I swung off. From his expression, you'd have thought I made him run a marathon. He'd actually worked up a nice sweat though, so I guess he was entitled.
I can definitely feel my thighs tonight, so he wasn't the only one working, either.
Finished my horse time up with Thunder - cleaned the muck out of his hooves, brushed him off, and tried him with the English saddle. Hmmm.... I need a longer girth.... Or he needs to go on a diet!