Today was a good day. I rode Red again for the first time since July 18, and he was as good as gold. He was much calmer today - I think our work session yesterday reestablished that I was the leader, and he felt much better about the world - his anxiety and the nipping were a sign that he felt insecure. He doesn't really want to be in charge, but he strongly feels that someone has to be (or else, being a horse, he's going to be eaten). He's happiest when I give him clear, consistent direction and boundaries - he relaxes right into that. So, as a result, we had a wonderful 10-minute walk ride. He couldn't have been better - stood beautifully for mounting, and was soft and responsive throughout our ride - we even did some really nice leg yield.
We'll be adding 5 minutes to our walk work every other ride, and when we get to 30 minutes, we'll see where he is soundness-wise at the trot, before doing any trot work under saddle. The leg is looking better every day, and we continue to ice and put on Traumeel ointment.
Pie and I had a very nice ride as well. I worked on me - it's always about me when things aren't quite right. I worked on feeling the energy rising up through me from Pie's hind legs and up and out of my body - this requires me to keep his forward energetic (without nagging), and my posture open and erect and eyes up. I wanted him "in front" of me at all times, and we did some very nice, very forward trot work. When I ride him this way, all the issues dissolve - no falling in, no diving with his head, no poor upwards or downwards transitions - most of the problems arise when I brace or look down at his head rather than up and out. We finished with a lovely set of walk/trot/walk transitions, with about three strides in each - forward, happy, marching trot into forward, happy, marching walk, continue - when I use just my exhale to cue the upward transition, this works much better than pushing with my leg. He seemed pretty happy with the whole thing. He's much more engaged and interactive since I started the "treat campaign" - I even got a nicker yesterday, which was a first.
And I can start riding Dawn again later this week (bought her a new fuzzy dressage girth to celebrate) - pretty soon all three will be back in action!