Dawn and I had a productive session today, bareback and with the snaffle. We did a little bit of work on the trail and on our standing around. We went further than we have before - more than a 100 yards from the barn. She was a little bit worried but went willingly when I asked. She did one small spook when something rustled in the leaves - but it was just a startle/spook-in-place, so I was very pleased and told her so.
Our ring work involved asking her to self-regulate her pace at the trot - small circles without increasing the pressure on the reins. She was very forward today - it's lovely cool windy weather - so we did quite a bit of this. When her pace was good and she began to relax a bit, then we went straight again - we managed some pretty nice swinging trot. Then we did more spiral-in/spiral out work and shoulder-in. She did this easily to the left, but struggled to the right. I went back to the walk and rewarded single steps of leg-yield - we're moving to the left but bent somewhat to the right so it mimics shoulder-in and worked for my purposes. I'm looking for that right hind to come under and cross over. I expect there's some stiffness, perhaps in a joint, that's making it a bit harder for her. The soreness/knots in the right side of her neck from her fence accident also probably inhibit her ability to bend to the right. She finally got a few nice steps at the trot and we were done with that.
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I'm gradually getting a more clear picture of horse #3 (I won't be calling him Drifter unless I get him - that's too personal and I don't want to get attached until we've gone through all the hoops). He has trail experience, but I wouldn't call him a seasoned trail horse (and neither would his owner - I like her honesty and forthrightness). His former owner did a fair amount of trial riding with him, including in groups, and he did very well. His current owner did a fair amount of trail riding with him during the summer of 2009, and he crosses bridges and water. He hasn't travelled to new locations to trail ride, and has mostly been in the company of at least one other horse. The past year, most of his work has been in the arena. So he's definitely not a finished trail horse, but I get the feeling that his personality and willingness may make this possible without a lot of trouble - I have a good feeling about that but need to confirm it when I meet him. So in any event there will be a bit of a gamble if I get him. I may see if she'll let me take him on a 30-day trial, where I can get a really good handle on the holes in his training/experience and see if they're ones I can easily fill. If not, I'll move on. If I really like him and she's not willing to give me 30 days, I may take the gamble if his vet check is good, but I don't have to cross that bridge yet. If he's like my Noble was, then I know the trail won't be a problem for him.
I've also asked follow-up questions about any work that may have been done on his teeth, as well as about the fact that he hasn't been ridden with much if any contact - I just want to be sure that it hasn't been a problem for him and is just a riding style issue. I get the impression that he doesn't have extensive training but has the basics down. This may be a good thing from my point of view - it means he hasn't learned too many bad things that I'll have to undo!
(I was asked about the other horses that I'd previewed - #1 (the overo gelding) was eliminated because I didn't like his conformation, #2 (the black and white tobiano mare) is still on the list but I'm cautious as she's been on the market for a long time, #4 (the other chestnut gelding) was eliminated because he's being sold by a (high-volume) dealer, #5 (the bay mare) is still on the list but I'm cautious because of her Impressive pedigree (sorry Impressive fans), #6 (the buckskin gelding) appears to be off the market, #7 (the roan mare) was eliminated because she's pretty much just a broodmare, #8 (bay gelding) is off the market, and #9 (the buckskin gelding) was eliminated due to concerns about his soundness. I've got some other possibles, but won't bother to put those up until we see what happens with horse #3.)