It was a really good day with horses - helped by the best weather yet this year - it was in the 30sF this morning and made it to 50 in the afternoon.
The mares had the morning, and the geldings had the afternoon. The mares were also gorgeous, and the geldings also marvelous . . .
Dawn was up first. I put her on the lunge to start, and my objective was to have her do walk/trot/canter transitions, with halts thrown in, with no drama (that is, grunting, squealing or airs above the ground). Adding canter upped the ante - if she's at all on edge, that'll bring out her emotions. She couldn't have been more perfect, right from the outset - as often happens, since she'd ended in a good place yesterday despite all the shenanigans before, I suspected she'd start today in the same good place, and it proved to be so.
So I got on - first ride in over a month - and she was great. We didn't work for long, as she's out of shape, but she did some very nice trot work, despite the arena doors being open on both sides for the first time.
Then I brought Missy in for a little groundwork session. I had two purposes for this - the day before she'd been slightly off at the trot when we started, although she'd worked out of it and been sound by the end of our ride - it seemed like she was a little bit stiff on the left front/right hind pair after five days off from work. I wanted to see how she'd be today, and trotting in a circle would really test that out. I also wanted to start bringing each of my horses other than Dawn in for morning work, so that they'd be ready and willing to work no matter the time of day. I've always ridden Dawn in the early morning, when no one else is at the barn, and won't change that - she very strongly objects to other horses in the ring (bucking, kicking, etc.) and at almost age 18, I'm not interested in trying to change her opinion. The boys have almost always been ridden in the afternoon after bring-in, so they get the most turnout possible, but they and Missy could both use some separation from the herd in the mornings so work then becomes ho hum.
Surprisingly, when I brought Missy in, Dawn left the hay, followed us and stayed at the pasture gate the whole time I was working with Missy. Dawn also did a lot of calling to Missy, who could see her through the open arena doors. This was interesting, because although Dawn and Missy have adjacent stalls, Dawn's never shown any particular fondness for Missy - Dawn often attacks the wall between them - and doesn't hang out with Missy in the pasture. But apparently there is some form of attachment there.
Missy and I did a bit of leading work - she's reliably good with this - and this gave me a chance to redirect her attention from the pasture and its distractions. Then we did some lungeing - she doesn't care too much for lungeing, and there were some minor ear pinning moments, but she did very well. We worked on walk/trot/halt combinations. She was completely sound in both directions, which was good to see. After settling into our work, she was also focussed and relaxed.
When I turned her back out, she and Dawn went trotting off together, and then Dawn proceeded to herd several other mares away from Missy. Perhaps a claim is being made? Later, I saw them in their usual places - Missy with her three special friends and Dawn elsewhere - who knows what's going on?
Tomorrow I'm planning to do some work in the morning with ropes with Missy - so she's not worried about them being around her legs - outside turns with a rope around her hindquarters, and "leading by the legs" - and then do some ground driving and perhaps a ride as well. We'll see where we get to.
The boys and I had rides in the afternoon - having two horses to ride in the afternoon, rather than three, makes things much more relaxed and pleasant. Red and I had an excellent ride. He was nicely relaxed and did some good stretching down at trot, as well as shortening/lengthening. We haven't done much canter work this winter - I'm a big fan of trot for even development of the body, and our arena is very small for cantering, but he was reasonably relaxed and we did some cantering for a change. He enjoyed it a lot, I could tell, and wanted to canter more. His canter is very elevated and engaged, very forward and quite remarkably lovely, but a bit hard to sit due to its animation. A little rougher on the right lead - less so than last year - but that'll improve with work and further even development of his body at the trot.
I have to always remember with Red to dial down my internal energy level - he and I are very plugged in to one another, and if I allow myself to get excited or let my energy level amp up, he reflects this very accurately - he tends to be excitable and high energy anyway and I have to stay serene to compensate for that and give him the lead for how we should be together. I managed to do this pretty well today, and he was able to do some relaxed trot work after our cantering.
Pie and I also had an excellent ride. He was forward and soft, and I tried to pay attention to opening my right hip when we were tracking right. We did some substantial work on the canter, particularly on circling with us retaining softness and balance and not falling on the forehand and losing the hind end around the bend. The final canter circles were really excellent.
I'd say that was a pretty fine day with horses . . .