Saturday, first ride in a week, after reports that His Highness had been stiff and resistant for Hannah and C. Not unusual for him, just had been a while since he'd done it.
I actually have quite a few pictures, one or two of them very nice, and I will try and put them up soon.
Tris warmed up stiff, as reported, but a jumpy kind of stiff - not just slow and sluggish. More like there was more jerky movement than I was used to. He wasn't exactly forward, but nor was he really painfully behind the leg like he can be. He softened laterally beautifully; always nice when I ride him the day after L. or T. does! (L. rode him instead of my lesson this week, pre-empted by a grad school function.)
He just wasn't very loose and swingy in a forward direction, so we worked a lot on that. Really most of my focus was on the outside hind leg, engaging it. His inside hind steps under beautifully - maybe even too easily and too quickly. He's much more willing to just spin around on that inside hind than he is to push off evenly with the outside hind, especially going right. So we worked on not letting him just swoop under and ignore the rest of his body. Lots of spiral circles, and when those weren't getting at the problem quickly enough, I tried some leg yielding.
His leg yields have really come a long, long way this summer, and when I can coordinate my aids to ask for a correct one, they are really good for him, one of his magic bullet exercises. Even if they don't work, they help me figure out what the problem is. (Usually my lack of outside aids...) These were great: any bulging and surging through the outside shoulder was easily corralled, and in doing so it meant he really had to push with his outside hind, because he couldn't just swing through and zip to the wall. Trot work became much better.
Canter is still a work in progress. Departs to the right were pretty good, but departs to the left need some work. I can't quite juggle enough things with my body to support him as he needs to be held together through the depart. Unless I have every.single.one of my ducks in a row he throws his shoulder out, giraffes his neck, and scrambles through the transition. I'm getting better and better so that now he will most of the time get his lead, but as can be imagined transitions like that are not exactly conducive to lift and push in the canter itself.
We had one decent transition and about a half-circle of very nice canter in the left, after which I called it a day. I jumped off, gave the saddle to my mother, and crawled up bareback. Very patient pony to put up with my leap and scramble from the ground - I used to be able to do it in one jump and swing. More practice! We wandered around the ring for a while cooling him out, then outside to watch a bit of a jump lesson and take a 5+ minute drink from a puddle.
So: good. My body took a bit longer than I wanted to figure things out again after a week and a half break, and I'm still keeping an eye on his stiffness. (He was also a bit spooky about one of the mirrors - half fogged up - which is unusual for him. He's got two abscesses on his jaw from tick bites, so...if this keeps up I'll see about a Lyme titer.)
Lesson Tuesday, hack/conditioning on Wednesday if I can fit it in before the light goes, otherwise I'll see about schooling him bareback. Supposedly I've been volunteered for a bareback jump lesson this winter, so I should probably see about getting my bareback seat back...