I gave Sunny the night off last night, but Thunder and I did the tree weaving thing again. We even ventured out into the road a ways and checked out the mailbox. He would have continued quite happily down the gravel, but I chickened out. I'd started having visions of him suddenly realizing he was all by himself and deciding to head for home. Maybe one day soon I'll catch D going by on the pretty black and white paint he's starting, and fall in with him.
Sunny stood on the hill and watched me hook the trailer up this morning. When I walked out to catch them, he very deliberated turned and walked about twenty steps the other direction, glancing over his shoulder to check if I was really serious about collecting him. Then he heaved a big sigh, turned around and waited for me. Silly.
Getting them fly-sprayed and loaded up was the usual non-event. Every time I watch someone deal with a poor loader I say a little thank you that it's not an exciting part of my riding day!
Arriving at Eric's, I unloaded, made sure they were both securely fastened, and went in to get Buddy ready. There was a big palamino gelding raising a ruckus in the indoor when I cross-tied him. Not a restful horse. He'd back off from the gate twenty feet or so, then run at it sliding to a stop an the last second letting his nose or chin bang against the gate and setting it rattling. Thud-a-da-thud-a-da, thump! clang! bang! SNORT! followed by spin and kick whang!
Buddy was not amused, and wanted to crane around in the direction of all the activity, shaking his head and dancing accompaniment. Thankfully, O swapped out horses before I got to the point of polo wraps, and the next horse wasn't nearly as energetic. Once the palamino was gone, Buddy stopped fidgeting.
Slightly cooler temps and a nice breeze, not to mention an earlier start, made for a more energetic horse, and Buddy was definitely alive underneath me as soon as I settled into the saddle. Eric had me working on channeling all that extra horse into getting Buddy's shoulders lifted and his back up. We had a few moments today that felt close to brilliant. :)
Moving on to sitting trot, I focused hard on keeping my lower leg solid and not bouncing all over the place. Sitting trot is usually not a problem, but Sunny is a lot less bouncy than Buddy! Eventually we made a sufficiently good round of it and Eric asked for working trot. Hooray for posting!
During Saturday's lesson I spent a lot of time working my outside hand, attempting to shake Buddy off of it. He'll hang and get heavy or run through you if you let him. Today, however, the spirit of cooperation appeared to be at work and he was willing to carry his head and balance himself without too many reminders from me. Maybe I'm getting better at catching him before he pops up, too... At any rate, after some working trot/sitting trot transitions, it was up to the canter.
That was far and away better than Saturday. And hand gallop didn't make me feel quite so hung out on the edge of a cliff today, either. I know what the problem is - I lose my lower leg, and then it's 'Hello, cliff!' But I think I'm improving - I wore jeans again, rather than breeches and half-chaps, and my leg stayed pretty much where it was supposed to despite having less grip than the half-chaps provide.
After a breather for Buddy - and me - we switched directions and tackled the same program to the right. Right was better then left. Woo-hoo!
Buddy got a rinse-down in lukewarm water and a cookie - not sure which he enjoyed more, and then I watched the last half of Eric's next lesson while I tacked Sunny up. A rodeo junior queen contestant with a roping horse and a reining pattern to do as part of the queening contest next week... Let's just say "GO!" will not be a problem. Neither will stopping. But finding the lope in the middle? Pony was initially frustrated and confused, and by the time they finished up the little gal was very red in the face, but his ears had started to come forward and he was getting the hang of the program.
Eric had her doing what was basically a half-halt and release as soon as the gelding hesitated and slowed even a smidge. They were both trying really hard, so hopefully they'll get things sorted before their deadline.
A lot of go is definitely not a concern with Sunny - thankfully I remembered my spurs! We warmed up at a walk in both directions with bending, leg yields and some counter-bending, then started walking a big circle to the right; his good direction.
He rolled over at the poll and I could feel his back come up under me. Sweet. We made several circles at a walk then moved on to trot and eventually canter. Transitions to the right were steady and solid. He stayed relatively light and didn't try to poke his nose out too often - but I didn't want to get too excited, because we hadn't gone left yet.
After a pause to air up, I revered him and we started left. Nice round walk, check. Working trot with an inside bend, check. Canter transition... right lead. Darn it!
I dropped him to trot, waited for a corner, made sure my hands were correct and his hip was pushed in, and... right (wrong) again. The third or fourth time he took the left lead and stayed in it until I asked him to trot. A break to air up again, and I asked him for left lead again. No dice.
So.... Either he's sore again, although he seemed perfectly willing to flex his neck in either direction, and his back didn't seem ouchie when I pressed on him post-ride, or I'm doing something wrong (always a possibility), or... who knows. He is taking both leads on the lunge line, and since he's willing to bend for me, I don't think he's as sore as he was before, so that's something at least.