Harley came to me in the pasture last night, nickering. He lowered his head into the halter. Hmm.. I wonder if this is a good sign, or if he's secretly plotting to kill me in the arena. Saddled, and neck stretcher longed, I hopped on.
Amazing again. A bit less give at the trot, which frustrated me. I asked for plenty of canter and transitions after 9-12 strides, hoping to get the give in the trot. Serpentines and circles at trot, and he'd feel pretty good until I'd ask for a straight line and corner. Things fell apart in the corners, so I'd go back to changing direction a lot. After about 30 minutes paying attention, he seemed to be finally alert to the collection, and relaxed. I tried some halt/trot/halt work, and that's improving significantly. The canters were nice again, light contact, sitting securely. Free walk work still seems to elude Harley. He'll stretch out, and down just past neck level, then stop. Every time he's stretched farther, he gets heavy on the forehand, stumbles, and then doesn't want to try it again. Must be a trick to it we're not getting.
Boss was up second, and Romeo looked pretty happy about my choice. He antsed around again saddling up, but stood quietly for polo wraps up front. Odd child. Bridling was easier, as he lowered his head with one tug of my fingers at the poll. Smart ... Smart ... He tried walking off at the mounting block, and after two aggressive responses from me, I mounted ever so slowly, and he stood still. A good pat for praise, and he was off.
Warmup at the walk took about five minutes before he wasn't a giraffe anymore, and was giving to the pressure. Tug, release, Tug, release, walk on. Nice .... His trot was ... LAZY! Slow, unforgiving, and just flat. It felt slower than Harley, which annoyed me. Thinking to myself, "I know the canter wakes Harley's trot up. I wonder if all horses are like that?"
I squeezed for the canter left, and off he went. Boss lept up into his canter, and before I knew it, I was sitting his massive stride with all its knee-action happiness, and he was bent on the circle, collected. How thrilling! I rode two big center arena circles, then let out a heavy sigh to the trot. Love the AirBrakes! Boss still lurched about in the trot, and no matter how cooperative I tried to be, he seemed to be ignoring me.
Then I flashed back to my first instructor in SC. Susan would tell the intermediate students when the horses were lazy, "take your reins at the buckle, and whap him on both sides of the neck. back and forth. That oughta wake him up." And I tried it. Success! Boss immediately perked up into a better trot, and, while it's not tracking up, I don't think I'm physically ready to keep up with a tracking up trot on him. He started giving to the bit, and I felt his back lift under me. Similar work heading right. Lazy trot, beautiful canter, whap-whap on the neck, and a nice trot.
About 35 minutes total work. Finished up again with long&low stretchy trot, and a bit of working walk / free walk transitions. They were better than Tuesday, even. Things are improving slowly, and I'm pretty sure it's mostly me and not that much Boss.