Purchased a new camera today, so I will definitely have some photos up by next week, both of the ranch and the three boys enjoying their time out there, as well the trip in the mountains next weekend!
I had a chance to work with ol' Sonny boy whilst waiting for Missy's interested peoples to show up - his groundwork went well (just basic 12' line stuff) and he did pretty good under-saddle as well. He was a little heavy on my hands, until I slapped myself in the face and corrected him (lol). Sometimes I need a dose of my own medicine, I don't even listen to my own speeches, haha. A "heavy" or hard-mouthed horse can be the result of either horse or rider, but continues in a vicious circle as both horse and rider play off one another, worsening the situation. If the rider stays soft, the horse will stay soft - at most, and (the horse) can only become 'so' hard - at least. So it is up to the rider both not to exacerbate the situation, and to correct it. Which I did. Finally. I lightened up the vice-like grip I had on the reins and just started gently bumping him with the reins (like mini half-halts). Immediately Sonny picked himself up, sat back on his hind end, and lightened up the front end. We also worked quite a bit on leg-yields; his leg yields going to the left are spectacular - extended, engaged, beautiful. To the left...not so much, pretty resistant. So I made sure to ask for the leg yields off of a circle so that he already had the bend and just had to move out sideways; he responded much better with the added help. Still a lot of work to do, but much improved. Otherwise everything else was same-old, same-old. He worked well, was balanced, picked up the correct canter leads, etc. I find he, the same as Link, tends to race forwards when I use leg, so I am working with him to get him to just relax and respond, rather than rushing. He was a little unresponsive to my body (ie. slowing when I sat back and relaxed, asking for him to slow with my seat) as well as to my hands opening and closing (the latter - response to my hands - particularly at first because he was so heavy on the bit), but we'll work on it further. I think lots of walk and trot work! I have to make sure too to always stay on top of him to remain light.
Missy had some visitors today, and for once, I was very pleased with how experienced they seemed. They were professional dressage riders and really knew what they were doing. They understood where she was at, how to get more out of her, and even complimented me on how nicely trained she was thus far, which felt great. One example where I felt we were on par and that I was finally dealing with some people who actually knew what they were doing, was when I finished warming Missy up for them; I told them she could canter, but that we were working on it one stride at a time, that we were doing lots of trot work and such because she was completely lacking in balance so far. The one woman responded with a "I wouldn't try to canter her either!" (it sounds mean when I write it here, but it was not spoken nor meant that way at all, lol). She immediately saw where Missy was and that she still needed a lot of walk/trot work to balance her out, and understood my reluctance to show them her canter. Yes, she can physically canter and won't throw a tantrum or anything, but it's so unbalanced and difficult to ride - she just isn't there yet. By the time she is there, she'll be pretty far along all-round, but it is going to take some time yet. On that note, I feel better about her canter with my opinion and work supported by professionals. They (the two dressage riders) really really liked her though: they felt she was a fast learner (she was already picking up things in the 30 minutes or so they both rode her), moved well, looked gorgeous under-saddle, and showed a ton of potential. I am hoping she is what they are looking for otherwise.
On another note, I ran into one of my old Pony Club coaches today and will be taking lessons :) We chatted quite a bit and I am pretty pumped now about actually taking some lessons!!!
I will put in another good session with Missy tomorrow morning (3/3) then I am back off to the ranch! I will report back (including Missy's 3/3 report) soon!