I had a good conversation last night with the trainer about Pie's and Drifter's progress - she's been working with them every day and they're both doing very well. Their issues are completely different, but she's really clued in to what each of them needs.
Pie is coming along nicely. He has been very calm, and pretty much takes everything in stride. He does kind of shut down mentally sometimes and can check out and get very spooky. (The new litter of barn kittens is helping with this by running, leaping, jumping on things and shooting out of stalls unexpectedly into the arena!) He's very green and doesn't know all that much, so for him it's mainly a matter of slowly building his skills and experiences. He's shown no signs of soreness and hasn't been crabby at all - I expect his crabbiness was partly that he was really bored and his turnout situation at the old barn without any buddies wasn't good for him at all. She really likes him, and his build, and thinks he'll be a really great horse. He needs some help with his confidence, as well as getting some softness through his body so he can balance better under a rider - we knew about these things going in. She's been working on getting a little more forward out of him in the walk and trot, as well as finding and maintaining softness while he does it.
Drifter is doing well but presents different issues, as we expected. He tends to run a bit hotter mentally and emotionally than he needs to, but is making decent progress with each ride, and is starting to be a bit more accepting of taking his rider's help. He's had a few temper tantrums on the lunge line (but no rearing) when he tries to cut in or make an unrequested turn - we suspect he got out of working in the past by doing this - and yesterday after she ignored his little fits and kept him working he had a big bucking fit, and then turned and looked at her - she said as if to say "now what are you going to do about that!". She ignored his antics and just quietly sent him back out to work and after that he was fine - he gave it right up - it was his first day in the outdoor arena and it was cold and windy and that could have contributed. She says his groundwork is improving quickly and she expects a lot of this fussing and acting up on the line will fade away with the regular, consistent work he's getting - she's not worried about it. His under saddle work has been good - his forward is back and there have been no episodes of balkiness. She has really been focusing on helping him to connect his brain to his body, and find some softness while doing so. She says he is super athletic and fundamentally very talented, but right now he is very mechanical in how he moves and uses his body - she's going to be doing some of Peggy Cummings's exercises with him to help him stay connected through his whole body. Her main focus has been on helping him connect his brain with his body, and on helping him find softness all the way through his body, so that he can move freely and softly, using his whole body, and brain, together.
She's worked them at different times of day and in different circumstances, both alone and with other horses. Drifter has done well around other horses - he will nicker to any mares that are around but has been well-behaved when working around other horses even under crowded circumstances. It's important that they both get used to busy conditions, as the new barn is large and sometimes very busy.
Both horses are completely sound and are coming back into work well. Drifter's been working physically a bit harder than Pie, and has started to lose some weight - they were both pretty plump when they arrived - and they're already getting plenty of good grass hay, so I'll be bringing them up some Ultimate Finish to get them some extra calories without excess carbs.
Our plan from the beginning was for me to start going up there and working with them and the trainer as soon as things were headed in the right direction and she had a good assessment of what they needed. She's going to give me another update after the weekend, and we expect that starting about the middle of next week, I'm going to start going up there to watch her work with them and then work with them under her supervision. I couldn't be more delighted with how she's working with them, and I like it that she's the one who grooms and tacks them - she gets a good assessment of how they're feeling mentally and physically. I'm also very excited that I'm going to start working with them too - I need as much work as they do! I also miss both of them and can't wait to see them!