Boss antsed around the trailer while I tried to saddle him. He pranced almost the whole way to the arena. In his halter, I worked on "poll pressure from my hand means head-down", and after the third push, he let out a heavy sigh. Curious if that was the training "sticking" in his head, I walked him forward and tried again. Poll, push, head-down. Almost instantly. I used this new lesson to get the bridle on - I'm not standing on a ladder to put his bridle on, no matter what he thinks.
Walked him over to the mounting block, and as I got on, he tried to walk off. I backed him up pretty hard, and held tight until I was secure. Just like Sunday, we played flex-position at the walk until Mr Giraffe became Boss again. A little leg yield at the walk, a few serpentines, and a couple of 10m circles, and I had his attention. Boss started to push into the bit, flex at the poll. Much faster than Sunday.
When I asked for the trot, I was worried just how hard I'd have to kick to get it. I prepared with a rock-solid half halt, and with a squeeze, then a kick, he was in the trot. Much of the same, flexing positioning and bending. I discovered a nice collected posting trot pretty quickly, though. Any time his head pops up to Mr Giraffe, I would examine my body, ears to toes, find the joint that wasn't bending with him, or the muscle groups I was holding on with, and the instant I relaxed or bent, he'd settle again.
Lots of trot, followed by a nice walk. I let the reins through my hands, and Boss reached for a long low free walk. Whatta dreamy free walk! Transition back to working walk wasn't so pretty, and now my new goal is to work through it slow enough that he isn't so Mr Giraffe.
More trot, and some canter. First canter was turning left on the circle, and I got the right lead. I had to kick pretty hard and position myself to an extreme to get it, so I figured I asked for the right lead. He stayed in it, then back to trot after about 8 strides. Second time I asked, I made sure outside leg was back, and I got the canter-left. Two big center of the arena circles, and back to a trot. The funniest part of his canter is feeling the inside front leg bend sharply at the knee, and hearing all four hooves hit the ground in the canter. ba-da-dump, ba-da-dump, ba-da-dump. It feels very UP in front, and that's just because I am not keeping him together in canter yet.
Relaxed into more trot work, and I ended with a new piece for Us as a team. The long & low trot. Starting out collected trot, I spread my hands about 2" total, and started to let the reins through my fingers. Boss immediately reached for it, and with the reins on the buckle (literally as long as they'd go), he still had tension on the reins at the long trot. Fantastic!
About 35 minutes total work, 30 minutes of it riding "work". He was sweaty and very relaxed when we ended, so that's a good time frame to stay with until he's a bit more fit. I didn't expect lots of canter work, nor did I expect him to hold up for an entire hour. He doesn't "relax" to a loose rein. If my body position is correct, the entire ride for him is "working session". It's just how he's trained, and something to adjust to.
Cookie stretches, nose to ribcage, I heard his neck pop quite a bit bending to the left. Time to start flexing his nose to my feet under saddle, see if I can't loosen that neck up a bit.