Just a quick post to basically say I was home for a little over a week, the weather was so warm and the ground thawed so fast that the water burst up and created a gross mess in the indoor arena, and so I only rode Link once while I was home. I refrained from riding a few days then finally got out there and decided to just use the outer perimeters of the indoor, as the outdoor was not superb and it was nightfall when I was there (so much to do during the day!), so no working outdoors! Thanks to the goop of the indoor, I could not really work Link on the ground first, so I had to get his focus (etc) under-saddle, after his not being ridden for about a week. It was an adventure, lol, but a short-lived one. He was excited at first and had a couple of quick panic attacks, but they probably only lasted all of 10 seconds and he'd quickly quiet down. The hardest part though, I found, was getting him to move forward! All that tense energy just caused him to compress his frame (not in a good way) and shorten his stride into mincing little steps rather than really thrust from behind and streeeetch. In short, we got the nice little peanut-pusher-dance sort of thing going on. I did some point-to-point (exercise) though and a lot of just jogging him out, and he slowly started to relax, especially when another horse joined us in the arena (actually, the other horse's wet footfalls and later galloping amok initially caused a couple bursts from Link, but he quickly relaxed afterward and learned everything was A-ok). We actually finished with a fantastic ride! The arena, though sloppy on the surface, actually had pretty good footing and grip underneath. The only slip Link made was a hind maybe sliding an inch at one point - otherwise he never slipped up once on the mud, so I kept riding him in it (though only at the walk and lots of trot). We ended up doing circles, serpentines, figure-8's, leg yields, changes in bend along the center-line, shoulder-in/out (or attempts at, at the beginning of our session when he was not yet loose and relaxed). I was actually quite proud of him! He was a little tense to the left again, but was pretty good when I encouraged him through it, to the point of being equally relaxed and loose on both sides when I asked for it. A very good session with a lot of relaxation, so I was pleased!! I wonder too if having his teeth done caused more relaxation in his jaw? I'll have to see as I ride him more. His teeth were not really all that bad when we took him in when I was home that week, but were on the precipice of needing to be done (so we did them anyway). He did not seem to push forward and track up quite as much as usual, but I think some of that might have been his footing in the mud. It felt secure, but maybe that is because he was being careful. He is coming along well though, so I am looking forward to maybe a few small shows and clinics this summer.
I unfortunately did not get another chance to work with him, but his rider J reports that he is doing well under-saddle for her, in the outdoor arena (the indoor has since frozen now!). I'll be back for the first of April and can put two solid months on him, as well as (hopefully) additional work. I could possibly be off most of June and July as well!! Good for my goals with the horses, though obviously not so much financially, lol. If that turns out to be the case, I might try to take on some more horses for training at least. In the mean time, I am enjoying my three weeks in camp here before most of the work dries up for me this season :)
Oh, and quick note on Koolaid: he and his young rider continue to do well it seems. He has recently gotten a haircut as well as a nice clip and is being blanketed - spoiled lad!! I am sure he loves all the extra attention and that he is more comfortable being conditioned without all that winter coat (he sure looks good without it, hehe). I am told he stood well for his shave, despite never having been body clipped before ;)