Pie and I took advantage of the good weather - sunny, 38F with a wind chill of 31 - to take a ride. We've only been able to ride 7 times in December so far, and hadn't ridden in almost a week.
We started our ride on the slope behind the barn, doing some figure work with cones. Then we had our moment of excitement - Pie is still very young: he's only four and can sometimes get scared of things. We were riding up the aisle between the paddocks on our way to one of the large pastures, when Charisma suddenly appeared out of her shed, rattling her hay feeder in the process. Pie did a swift rollback followed by springing away into a few steps of bolting. I was a bit surprised that I stayed on - I was riding in my close contact saddle on a loose rein and there was at least a moment when no part of my seat was in contact with the saddle and I had a passing thought that I might be gone. But I kept my stirrups and, although I got thrown a bit to one side, kept my balance and stayed with him - I didn't get behind the motion and my stirrup that was taking most of my weight was underneath me. I was able to ask him to stop after a few steps of his bolt. Then we turned around and made our way back to the pasture we'd been heading for. His job out there was to ride the fence line with me - the pasture is about 4 acres or so. I thought he'd appreciate having a real job to do - we found one fence board that needs repair.
When we were done with that job, we headed past Charisma and her shed again and went back to the slope behind the barn to do more cone work, including a bit of trotting. I took advantage of his being pretty forward today to start our softening work at the walk. As they start softening work, sometimes horses which have always been ridden on a loose rein may interpret the ask to soften as an ask to slow or stop. Since Pie was so forward already, I thought he might do well today and avoid this confusion - I didn't want to use a lot of leg. He did really well - he got three steps of soft walk very quickly and consistently. We were in the sidepull today, and I expect everything he learns to translate pretty quickly to riding in the bit. Due to the work requiring him to use his core, it is very hard physically for him due to having to overcome his usual upside down posture where he hasn't been using his core, so that's all we did today.
Then we went up the trail for a hundred yards or so, stopping from time to time to watch and listen to the children on the sledding hill. To finish up we went back up the aisle past Charisma's paddock again and back down to the barn. I told him what a good boy he was and unsaddled and turned him back out. Good Pie!