Today I rode all four horses - that certainly won't happen every day, but it was a good day for it - very few people at the barn and lots of peace and quiet. Dawn and I had a nice early morning ride, with some trotting - she's a little bit gimpy, possibly from the hard frozen ground after her trim, so we didn't ride too long. She's getting up there in years - she'll be 18 this summer - so sometimes she's just a little sore due to that and some arthritis.
Red and Pie were lovely in our rides, lots of nice stretching down and lifting through the back. Both boys did some bits of good canter work, too.
Missy was a star. She's now out full day in turnout with the mare herd, and they mostly seem to be letting her alone - there were a couple of instances where she was nibbling grass near another mare, or a mare was letting her eat hay from a bale the mare was on - she's already making her way into the herd and is happy to be out there.
Yesterday, Missy and I rode alone in the arena. She was a little bit nervous about that - she's already getting pretty attached to the other horses she's with, in turnout and in her stall - but that's not surprising, and she didn't really do much of anything except try to ease her way back towards her stall. But today she did very, very well.
To help her with her softening, I tried a bit change. I already knew from Mary that Miss didn't like single jointed snaffles, and had been ridden in a french link. Knowing that, I suspected that she might like this bit:
This is the same bit that Pie goes in - a raised Rockin' S snaffle - it was specially designed by Mark Rashid, together with the bit maker, to be a comfortable bit for horses with low palates and large tongues. The fact that Miss didn't like a single-jointed snaffle made me thing she might be a horse like that, so we tried out the raised Rockin' S to see how she'd like it. Another very nice feature of this bit is that it doesn't pinch - when pressure is applied to the reins, the mouthpiece actually opens up rather than closing down.
Many horses take a while to adjust to this bit - it lies back in the mouth along the tongue - not falling forward like many double-jointed bits - but Miss took to it immediately. Her mouth was quiet and her affect was relaxed. We did some in-hand softening and relaxation/stretching down work, and she was immediately responsive and happy. We worked some more on our standing still for mounting, and did some just-standing-around work in hand. When I got on, she was immediately softer and more responsive. We did some work on our halts (she's beginning to halt off my seat/my placing the feet into halt, rather than the reins), and standing for a while on a loose rein, and she also did some nice figure work at the walk with good stretching down. She enjoyed her after-ride treats (she says she's used to more!), and was content in her stall - good Missy mare!