Today was spent with my own horses - I missed them! Silver and I needed to work a little too to prep for the ride in the parade. Otherwise I did not have much time, as we are now searching for a vehicle to replace the car I left for parts in Westlock.
Wow, after about two weeks off, I expected the big man to be a HUGE handful - I wasn't even sure if I would get the chance to ride. He was a blast on the ground - weave at the trot on either side (working out a couple minor kinks to perfect it, but we got it), figure-8 at the trot (with cones), and all our games (including spiraling in and out at the trot, transitions, changes in direction, and canter). I was a little lazy though, so we did it all on the 12' line (doing it on the 22' would have involved walking all the way over to the arena fenceline, where I had left it...hahaha). Plus, I wasn't sure how much I could ask of him, where he'd be at, and I just wanted to do a quick brush-up on the ground before riding. Under-saddle I was a little frustrated at first, as he wouldn't stand still for me to mount - he just wanted to take off! On that note, a quick point:
A hard to mount horse is telling you something - either he's excited (anxious, tense) for whatever reason and wants to get a move-on, or he's reactive or disrespectful and doesn't want you up there. It is important to know the difference! Sometimes it is simply a matter of desensitizing the horse further to being mounted and developing them into a calmer individual, sometimes it involves further earning their respect. Sometimes you can do the work under-saddle, other times it needs to be done on the ground - or risk your horse telling you later, in no uncertain terms (read: bucking) that you are not wanted up there! I'll blog further on this on The Perfect Horse at a later date.
Once I was up however, Link was fabulous. He was pretty excited to get going, so get going we did! I put him to work doing patterns at the walk before moving him up into the trot. We did all our usual patterns under-saddle - approx. 6m circles at each change in direction of a serpentine, 10m circles on a straight line down the centre of the arena, 20m circles, figure-8's, etc. He did great and even needed a little impulsion at times!! I had expected him to be quite the handful but instead we were in perfect harmony most of the time. Our canter was a little fast and he had trouble picking up the right lead (out of alignment perhaps?), but pick it up he eventually did. We even did some trotting down the long sides of the arena in either direction, working on keeping a bend and attaining some collection. He did very well, with some fab work towards collection. Of course we can still clean up our work quite a bit, but I was very pleased with him after such a long break, and he did well even had he not had a break!
On another related note, I switched out gullet plates on my saddle to ride Link. I had bought the narrowest gullet plate possible, hoping it would at least give me an idea of where he was at - the tack store did not have the gullet plate sized in between what I had and the narrowest possible, but told me I could return the plate I bought if it didn't fit and instead order in one that did. Well, surprisingly, it did fit!! It seemed to fit him very well! I'll keep evaluating him though, particularly as he changes shape with work :)
My grey man did fantastic today! We worked on rollbacks at the walk, sidepass, shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yield, jog, canter, etc, using some of the same patterns Link and I work on. He did great and slowed his paces quite a bit during our work. We worked in the new curb bit and while he didn't love it as much as he had the Happy Mouth (I'll probably switch that in and out with the curb during our work), he seemed to not mind it and to work well in it. We had some trouble with the sidepass to the left, but I think it's simply an issue with ironing out our communication yet. We eventually got it and I figured out how to teach him and work with him when he was ready to react, without frustrating him so much as I have in the past (lol). It feels so funny though teaching Silver - when I am with him it feels like he knows so much more than me, that he's the wise one that should be teaching me, since he has taught me so much already! It's such a funny feeling, LOL.
Just the two, as I had to then take off to look at some vehicles! More tomorrow ;)