Dawn and I had another productive work session today. She was a little bit annoyed at saddling and girthing, and it turns out she's going into heat - when I put her out into the small grass paddock to dry after a rinse off when we were done working, she was squealing and doing the front foot strike at the geldings in the next paddock. Notwithstanding that, she was willing to work hard today.
To mix things up, we started by taking a short loop on the trail before we did our arena work. She didn't balk even a step and walked out willingly without any urging from me - I thought this might happen after our work yesterday. The balking may reappear again, but if it does I expect we can deal with it.
In our arena work, after warm-up at the walk and trot, we worked some more on our canter, adding canter to the left to the canter to the right we did yesterday. We did several canter sets in each direction, working on her sustaining the canter without having my hands to lean on - it's clear that she finds this difficult and tiring. But she tried hard and did very well, and the relaxation between sets came back pretty quickly. Her canter departures were really good - all I have to do is feel the new 1-2-3 rhythm, breathe out and she's immediately cantering on the correct lead. Her downwards transitions are nicely timed, but she tends to fall into the trot a bit. We'll keep working on the cantering - I want her to carry herself a bit better before we work on softening at the canter, but we're pretty close.
She's also doing better maintaining her softness on the halt/back and halt/walk transitions - we're about 90% of the way there. On several occasions, I was able to have her at the halt on a loose rein, and pick up my reins (breathing out) and have her soften as I took up the reins without any bracing. It's good and getting better.
And now, for something fun, groomfests!
Our Lily, who is retired at Paradigm Farms in Tennessee, continues to exhibit her winning social side. She apparently loves grooming across the fence with the "big boys" in the next pasture. Here are some nice shots - thanks to Melissa:
And here are some shots of Maisie and Dawn grooming from a few days ago - I love how tall and long Maisie looks in comparison to Dawn:
I really enjoy watching horses groom - they will do it even when they have grass to graze - socializing is very important to them, and their personalities shine through.