Tuesday, the day after the vet cleared him to start back to work, Red and I started real trot work again. We've been walking under saddle for a long time, with occasional attempts at trot, but now we don't have to be so tentative about things. He's terribly out of shape, so we're easing up on it by doing a few laps of trot, followed by walking for a bit, and then more trotting. He still huffs and puffs - he's also a bit overweight although I think that will improve quickly. We're still doing a long - 15 minutes at least - walk warm up to stretch things out, and our total trot work is still less than 5 minutes per ride.
After two days, he seems to be moving well and to be pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing - I expect he was quite bored with all the walking, as he's a pretty high energy horse. It's great to be able to really ride him again. He's a real blast to ride - incredibly responsive and forward and he carries himself beautifully - it's like riding on air.
Yesterday we had to deal with the Menacing Mini, the Donkey of Doom and the Panicking Pony. When we entered the arena, there was a mini being looked at - he has an abscess. This mini isn't in Red's herd - there is a mini in his herd but the other one is kept in a paddock as he's previously foundered. So Red's eyes were bugging out at the unfamiliar mini, and his head was straight up in the air - he kept glancing at me as if to say "is it a dog? a wolf? a horse I don't know?" And then, when the mini left, the donkey started doing that wheezy, raspy, almost bray that they sometimes do - the donkey shares a stall with the mini and worries when he's not there. Red was clearly thinking that was just too much. But he stayed with me, and very quickly started to calm right back down - I love how quickly he comes back to me now when he's worried about something.
As we were working, a pony came into the ring for lessons. This pony has a tendency to race around and to have trouble settling down, particularly if the kid riding is nervous or tight. The poor kid was wrestling with the pony, and both the kid and pony were getting more and more agitated. Finally the kid was panicking, and so was the pony. Since it looked like the pony was getting ready to bolt, I dismounted and held Red in the center of the ring - the instructor got on the pony and settled him down so I remounted. Red was perfect for all of this, and our work session went really well.
He also seems to be enjoying having Surpass rubbed into his inside lower hock joints - I have to kneel down on one knee to do it in his stall while he's eating his hay after our ride. I expect it may feel good right away - the spot I'm massaging does get warm as I'm doing it.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that our renewed work continues to go well.