We've been taking advantage of the (relatively) nice weather - at this point, anything above 20F qualifies as "nice" - to do lots of riding. Three horses, three days, three rides a day - can't ask for more than that. Dawn is still being neglected, since it's just too cold to ride in the early mornings. But she gets a good grooming and some attention, and this morning we did some easy leading work together.
Today, Pie taught me something. I've always had some issues with all my horses tending to fall in when tracking right. Mark helped me fix one thing by determining that I was applying a very slight amount of pressure with my outside (left) leg without realizing it - and this made a huge difference. Pie had been falling in to the right because that was exactly what I was asking him to do.
There was just the smallest residual amount of this happening, and Pie told me today what it was all about. As we entered a right turn, I was moving my right leg back slightly and applying a slight amount of pressure - but in the process I was slightly rotating my right hip inwards, effectively blocking the motion of the inside right hind stepping under - the falling in wasn't just in the shoulder, it was in the inside hind as well. By consciously opening my right hip around corners as we tracked right, Pie's motion was really freed up and the (only very slight) remaining tendency to fall in was completely eliminated. I don't have this issue tracking left (and so neither do my horses) - it's an asymmetry Pie says I have to watch out for. Good Pie!
Missy and I had an excellent ride. Today's goal was to have her "own" forward - no pushing or nagging with the leg by me. If I asked for forward, it was her job to continuously provide forward without my doing anything else. If I didn't get the forward I wanted, it was my job to tell her with a secondary cue of my dressage whip. (If I'd nagged her with my leg, that just would have taught her that that's the way I wanted her to go.) We also did some walk/trot/walk transitions as well as halts - her transitions down are quick - in fact I have to help her carry the energy forwards so she doesn't collapse into walk or halt - but we needed to improve the walk/trot transition so it was immediate and without any significant leg aid - just internal rhythm and an exhale. Again, I used the secondary aid of the dressage whip to instantly ask for the transition, and within minutes she was doing the walk/trot transition instantly off my thought and breath. As usual, she was a very quick learner. She was also doing some nice stretching down at the trot.
Miss was just very slightly off at the trot (left front?), although she has no heat in her feet or digital pulses, so we didn't work very long at trot at all. Her feet are going through big changes, and we've worked three days in a row. She's sound on the concrete and outside on the hard frozen ground, but the soft arena surface puts more pressure on her relatively weak frogs and heels in front. I did another thrush treatment, and if we ride tomorrow we'll only walk. This has happened before as her feet flex and change - she'll be sound for a while and then just slightly sore for a few days, then sound again. That's one reason we're taking it so slow in our work - it's important that she be comfortable while giving her feet the exercise they need to grow well.
Tomorrow we may get some rides in although the weather's going to be nasty - snow/sleet/freezing rain/rain - but in the 30s! I can't imagine how warm that's going to feel . . .
Then several days off as I have some other commitments, but at least we're getting some consistent rides in again.