Link was much more responsive and relaxed this morning over yesterday; he was focused enough on me to do transitions at our circling game and to start out the circling game at a walk (as opposed to a tense, “flighty” trot). The rest of our games (just brushed through) went really well as well, and he stood nicely to be tacked up. Leaving the house (and other horses), he stepped out smartly and pretty relaxed. Once into a trot, however, he was a bit tense. The rest of the ride went well, with some tension and some bad acting, but nothing that wasn’t possible to ride though – I felt I could trust him enough to be honest (ie. no bucking or surprising me) in his playing up, which was great. Overall, he did very well, including being led through the creek (I think I will ride him next time at it). All in all, we tackled walk/trot/canter, collection (working over his back quite a bit during the latter end of the ride), leg yields, serpentines, circles, figure-8’s – all throughout our hour-long ride, and he did fantastic. He has also put on enough weight now that his ribs are barely discernible through his coat when he moves now (and he’s more comfortable bareback!) – I’d like to see even more weight, particularly going into winter, but it’s a great start and we’ve still got two weeks of grass left here.
Cody was my evening horse tonight (my two-and-a-half-hour horse, to be more specific, lol), and he did fantastic! He was quite a bit more difficult to catch today than usual (consistent work is definitely key) and a bit tense during the first part of our ride, but he sure stepped up to the plate!! Our groundwork went well also, with some great relaxed work once he was more relaxed overall. He wasn’t so sure about walking through a long boggy area (thick bog) under-saddle but followed nicely on the ground, and when I asked him to gather up cattle for me later, he worked beautifully. We came up with two bulls (the third lounges up in the back section), 21 cows (did I miscount last time when I came up with 22??), and 14 calves (less than I had anticipated). We went through bush (led him some of the ways, as it was too low for me to ride him through some of it), walked right in amongst the cattle, etc. At one point I spotted a cow on the ridge a little ways off and asked Cody to immediately pick up the canter. I had 19 cows, 2 bulls, and 12 calves counted and had left two cow-calf pairs behind in another area of the section (they’d been separated when the rest of the herd moved as I counted); I was hoping that the cow I saw on the ridge was my missing cow, and I wanted to get up there quick before she disappeared into bush. Cody took off just as I asked, transitioned down later when I asked (with a weight shift) as we approached the cow(s) – very responsive. Unfortunately the two we found were the two pairs separated earlier. Cody and I took off over the rest of the property, including through the creek (which he walked through, without jumping, and handled the best he ever has – even though he handled it well before) and back home through the dark. At one point I just couldn’t see well enough to properly guide him over the ground, so I gave him his head and he got us home safe without a single misstep. During our ride he was relaxed enough in my presence to stop and pee (super success for this horse, lol) and afterwards (after our ride and after turning him loose) he allowed me to approach him loose and rub his barrel as well – he’s getting there, though it is still going to take time to earn his trust and to erase that intense fear he has of people.