Today was a delightful three-horse-ride day. We'd all had a day off yesterday, so we were ready to rock and roll.
I rode Dawn as I usually do, in the early morning. It was below zero F when I got to the barn, but sunny and with little wind. I hiked up the hill to retrieve Dawn - she was huddled, sulking because of the cold, although she was warm under her blanket.
We had a nice grooming session with a good amount of muzzle wrapping - she seemed happy to be with me. Since it was barely 10F in the indoor, we suited up - Dawn in her rump rug and me in my balaclava. We had a fabulous ride - Dawn rode just as she would have if it were 80 degrees - forward, soft and relaxed. I couldn't have been more delighted, and she seemed pretty pleased with herself, too.
In the afternoon - it was almost 20F outside and a bit warmer in the indoor - Pie and Red both got rides. Things were a bit out of order, since there were two horses getting reshod in the aisle just outside Red's door, which meant that (gasp!) Pie got ridden before Red, and (gasp again!) there was a horse between Red and Pie when I took Pie away to ride him. This made Red very unhappy, and he did a lot of calling and pawing while I was riding Pie. Red cares a lot about order, and things happening in the correct sequence, and about making sure he can protect Pie. But he coped.
Pie and I had a lovely ride in an empty ring - pure bliss to have it to ourselves. He did some nice, relaxed canter work, and we also worked on him not getting all excited and anticipating canter when I sit the trot. This is my fault (as most things are), since I rarely sit Pie's trot except when we're about to canter, so he logically expects that sitting trot will lead to canter. Pie has a big, not very comfortable trot, so I've avoided doing much sitting trot work. Today we did a lot of sitting/rising/sitting work so he could relax and stop worrying about canter.
Then Red finally got his turn - he was relieved, I think, to know that he wasn't being overlooked. He was fairly keyed up as I led him in and mounted and we started our loose rein walk work, but he quickly settled and went right to work. I've discovered he's a bit of a show off, and if there's another horse in the ring, his gaits tend to be more animated.
The brace on the walk/trot transitions is pretty much completely gone, as I suspected it would be. We did a fair amount of transition work, walk/trot/walk/trot, etc., just off feel with zero pressure on the reins, although I did maintain contact. Carrying the energy forward into walk makes for a much better trot/walk transition.
We did some one slow step at a time backing, on a completely loose rein - I could lift the buckle with a finger and he would back the exact number of steps I was thinking.
Then we did some shortening/lengthening trot work just off my thought/feel, and he was right on it. So, I thought, why not? let's see if he can take the feel of passage (I disagree with the "braced" way the site recommends doing passage, and note the the horse in the video is braced and tail wringing, but it does show the movement) and do something with it - and he did. I introduced a small hesitation into the "trot I was feeling", and he made a good try at it - very slow and cadenced trot with a lot of elevation of the front end and the slightest hesitation - just a very soft rein contact. We didn't do too much, only a few steps at a time, since it's very strenuous.
I have to be careful with Red that, when I'm excited and delighted with how he's doing, my energy level rises and he tends to get a bit "sharp" - he turns or moves off with a thought and can be overly reactive - he's entering into the game but I need to be sure to calm things down in my own mind even if I'm excited and delighted.
It was more fun than a barrel (or two) of monkeys! I told Red that he was a superstar, and he modestly accepted my praise.
My rides, in my ride log, are rated good, very good, excellent and outstanding. I guess I need a new category - stupendous, magnificent, overwhelming, I don't know . . .