The weather is warmer, the grass is starting to turn green and I no longer have to wear insulated coveralls to do the barn chores. I'm in heaven.
Today dawned beautiful and sunny but it was supposed to cloud over later. I decided that it made sense to play first and then do chores.
I started with Irish. When I went to get him he was all worked up over something. No idea what but he was running around. It did allow me to see how sound he was. I finally got him and brought him into the barn. He was still agitated. In the past I would have been frustrated with him and showed it. Now I just spent a few minutes stroking his forehead and talking to him until he relaxed. I then got him ready. With all the time off he's had he has no topline and limited stamina. My goal is to slowly build both back up. I've started timing my rides so that I don't over do it in my enthusiasm. Today I added in more canter work including simple changes through trot. At first going across the diaganal he got a little over enthused and tried to rush the change and invert. I just kept him to trot and made him get back on the aids before we transitioned. On the 4th one he was soft and smooth. I did two more and called that quits. I also added in haunches in and shoulder in at the trot. Two years ago he completely resisted this and became quite stiff. Today it was no big deal. It was hard to not push for more but I didn't want to undo all our good work. After I gave him a nice groom and then decided to clip his head. He always grows long winter fur along his jawline. Now that winter is over I decided to clip it.
Then it was Steele's turn. He headed up to the ring like a seasoned pro. I warmed him up on the lunge and at first he was all calm, cool and collected. I was not fooled. When I asked him to canter it was calm and contained but then decided to have a bit of fun. "Fun" translate into leaping forward trying to fly while not pulling on the line. Fortunately this never lasts long. He's quite cute. When I ask him to halt he stops perfecdtly, arches his neck and then looks at me as though to say 'arn't I perfect?' After he was warmed up I hooked on the side reins. Each time I do this he stretches more and more.
After about 10 minutes I stop and gave him a pat. I then took off the side reins and hooked up the two lines to do some ground driving. This was the second time this year. He's really not so sure about this whole steering thing but I remain patient and try to make my instructions clear and soft. I headed down to the back of the ring. He was not so sure he wanted to head down there and tried to duck away. I kept circling him down that way. When we got down there he was okay for minute and then gave this big spook and tried to spin and bolt away. I let go of the outside line and just stood still. He stopped immediately and looked at me. I came up to him. The other line was under his feet. This is where all that work of having lines and other stuff waving around his hind legs comes in handy. I could simply stand there and pull it back through his hind legs while he stayed dead still. We circled the ring a few times and practiced turning left, turning right and 'whoa'. It was pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
The last few minutes I spent at the mounting block beside him. His job is to stand still and not move no matter what I do. I practiced climbing up and jumping off the block on both sides. I draped myself over him. I waved a line along his sides. He never moved an inch. I windmill my arms as I jump down. This earned me a look. He then nudged me with his nose. It was like he was saying 'get on with it already'. I was so tempted. But he doesn't have his saddle yet. I must be patient. Besides there's a lot more steering work to do.
I love spring. Especially right now when there's no bugs.