Whenever things aren't going quite right with a horse, it's a good idea to look to the basics - there's something there that needs to be fixed. Recently, my rides with Dawn have involved a lot of bracing on her part, particularly at the canter, or at the trot after she's cantered. And the result of the bracing is that Dawn isn't able to sustain the canter, particularly on the right lead - she flattens out and falls back to trot. The solution, as it usually is, is softness. And for Dawn to be soft, I have to be soft. Today, we worked at first on walk and trot, with my goal being to maintain a very light contact and to encourage her to stretch down - we needed to have relaxation first - for Dawn this is fundamental - she's always very forward, but I need to be sure relaxation - mental and physical - is there first, and I have to offer it to Dawn for her to be able to offer it back to me. At the canter, once trot was relaxed (but still very forward), I tried to maintain a very soft contact and just let her move - she was very forward - but I try to maintain the thought that I can ride as fast as the horse can move. She did very well with this, and was able to hold the canter on both leads (with no unrequested lead changes) for several laps of the arena at a time. It was very, very good, and I told her so.
Red and I had a good ride in the afternoon. When we started out, he did some head shaking and one little buck - I had the back cinch a bit too tight (!), so I got off and loosened it, and after that things were fine. His trot work was very good, and we even tried one length of the arena in left lead canter - his easier lead. He worked hard and I was very pleased with him. He was tired when we were done, but his rehab is progressing very well.
Pie and I also had a nice ride. At the canter, he did invert his neck quite a bit, although he did have more moments of softness as we worked. He had a new bite mark on the right side of his neck that may have been sore. All three of my horses are getting some chiro work on Monday, which I expect they will all enjoy.
If I offer softness to my horses, I will get it back in return.