Well, we walked around bareback for 40 minutes, but damn it, I sat on him and he went.
I canceled my lesson on account of not being able to take a deep breath, but I forced myself to the barn, got a bridle and a quarter sheet, and kept Tris at a lively forward walk for 40 minutes. The last 10 I even picked up the reins and we had some small but accurate steps of leg yield and some thoughtful serpentines and changes of direction. Victory!
Then he got a massage. Despite having the previous week entirely off, J. was still pleased with his muscle tone and the places he's added muscle. He's clearly getting a ridge of muscle along his spine, and adding some bulk to either side of his withers. He's starting to get that butt groove in his hindquarters that shows separate ropy muscles. He's also added weight, finally. He was never what I would call worryingly thin, but I kept wanting just a touch more...and now he's pretty much there. His ribs are buried, the top of his butt has smoothed out. He'll stay on his elevated levels of grain and hay through the winter and then we'll take another look at him in the spring when the grass comes in.
Another positive (?) sign was that he was much more sore and tight than he has been, in front of his shoulders (his usual) and in his hindquarters, particularly his hamstrings. That said to both of us that he'd been in hard work before his break. Which is kind of what I wanted to hear.
We also talked a bit about how his right shoulder is consistently more tight and sore than his left shoulder. It's been 18 months since that first abscess but J. thinks at this point it's residual; there's nothing new brewing in the RF (THANK GOD) but more that it's in the "old injury" category at this point. If he were being pointed at the Olympics or WEGs, we'd be on it every day with massages and stretches and cold laser therapy, but...he's not. I'll stay on top of it in our daily work and I'll be more careful about working on it a bit before and after our rides, and we'll see where we go from here.
Then I went home and did not move from the couch for the rest of the night. Oof. Today, highs in the mid single digits; tomorrow, the forecast keeps changing. But starting Thursday, we'll be reliably double digits again, so back to work for both of us!