The first two days of the year, the weather was entirely too cold and windy to ride - even Sugar's owner, who is our most intrepid rider, didn't ride. That worked out OK for me, because I came down with some sort of bug on New Year's day. I hadn't been feeling quite right for a few days - low energy and a tad more achy than normal, and in the afternoon on New Year's I came down with a fever and chills. Fortunately, that was mostly over with by the next morning, but then yesterday I napped for a good part of the day. Today I'm still a bit tired and have a sore throat, but nothing too bad. The weather finally improved enough that a ride was possible - the temperature made it up almost to freezing and the wind wasn't too bad. There's only one day in the upcoming weather forecasts that looks even possible for riding, so I took what I could get and got myself up off the couch and went to the barn.
Pie (and the other geldings) came to greet me at the gate (he also whinnied to me this morning before sunrise as I walked to the barn to feed - I was a good 100 yards away and just called his name and he whinnied back - very sweet although perhaps he was just hungry). We groomed and saddled up and went on a short solo trail ride. He was alert but very well-behaved. We couldn't trot much, as the trails are like concrete and there are only certain places where a grassy edge was available.
On our way back, he stopped, as he often does, to look at the lake in the distance. I'm not sure why he likes to do this - he is calm but clearly fascinated by it, or perhaps the activities - people walking, cars - on the other side. He often stands there for several minutes just looking. I wish I knew what he was feeling and thinking - he radiates calm and peaceful attentiveness.
When we got back to the barn, we worked in the grassy area for a while - the footing is pretty good right now, although a bit hard. We worked again on our softening work at the walk - he hadn't forgotten a thing from our first work session and he quickly was giving me 3 soft steps at the walk. Then we did some trotting on a loose rein, working on forward and straight and changes of direction. Unlike a lot of young horses, he's not very wiggly. I worked on keeping my eyes up and using only as much leg (just a whisper) as was needed to help with forward and direction changes. His trot was very nice today - forward and regular but not at all rushed. At the very end, I asked for canter and he instantly gave me a lovely canter - on the correct lead. We didn't canter long today, but I can already tell his gaits are going to just get better and better.
I felt a lot better when I got back from my ride than I did when I left the house to go to the barn, and I'm very glad I went! A good start to 2011!