Dawn and I had a nice work session this morning. We one-line ground drove at the walk and trot, with some halts thrown in for good measure. We did an exercise I call "square the circle" - I set four cones in a big rectangle, and we go straight along the edges, with turns around the cones. We did lots of transitions, mostly off my body language, with a voice command as a secondary cue. She was great - very relaxed. It was too cold today to take her sheet and fleece off to saddle up, but as soon as we get a day above 40F, we'll be riding. She did look the slightest bit off at the trot - right hind and left front - I think her age (she's almost 14) and her acrobatics may be catching up with her a bit - it looked more like an arthritic thing, maybe hock. I'll keep an eye on it and see if she warms up out of it.
Drifter worked hard today for almost an hour. We had started our work session when the other horses got turned out - this was very exciting. I let him go so he could run, and then we did some free lungeing - he does this pretty well. It's not something I usually teach my horses, but since he knows how to do it we can make use of it. It was a good way for him to burn off some energy and also to start responding to my body language. We did some tying work - he doesn't pull back but he doesn't tie well either - he fusses and paws. All we did was to tie for a few minutes - he would paw and then I would stand there and wait. As soon as he stopped pawing, I praised him. We did this for a little bit - this is going to take more work. As an experiment, I ground tied him to groom him - he actually ground tied pretty well. Then I saddled him - no problem - and bridled - he opened his mouth for the bit although he didn't much like the Rockin' S snaffle so I took it off again. We lunged for a minute in the dressage saddle - I wasn't sure how he'd react to the stirrups flopping around as I expect he's only ever been in a Western saddle - and that was OK.
And then we spent a long time working on coming up to the mounting block and standing for mounting. As those of you who followed the great horse search may remember, when I visited him in the fall, he didn't stand at all well for mounting and his owner spent about 15 minutes chasing him all over the arena with the mounting block before she finally trapped him against the fence and got on. We progressed pretty well - I just used a halter and lead - in very small increments, and with lots of praise and a restful walk around with every bit of progress, until we got to the point where he was coming up and standing right next to me at the block, letting me fuss with the saddle and lean across it. The part that was hardest was the next bit - he wanted to move as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup - I doubt he's ever stood still for mounting in his life and he expects to immediately move off. It took a while, but we finally got a couple of good repetitions of him standing for me to bounce my weight in the stirrup, and that's where we stopped for the day.
And then Pie and I had a lovely, long, relaxing trail ride with Charisma, mostly walking but with a bit of trotting. Pie led the way for most of the ride, and his walk was much more forward and he was stretching down quite a bit - very nice.
It was a lovely day with horses - now if the temperatures would just get above 40F . . .