I headed out later in the evening, after trading off the puppy and cleaning around the house, tacked up in his jump saddle and figure-8 bridle, and set in for some conditioning & hills work.
Conditioning has proven ever so slightly tricky because on the farm I have too much of a good thing: hills! We're going up or down as soon as we set foot out the front door. It's actually harder to find good long straightaways for road hacking. I can't modify the difficulty level, really.
Last night I tried out a bit of a system that I'd been pondering in my head: namely, circling all the upper paddocks at various gaits. So we started walking around the entire area, about a mile and a half. Then we trotted up the hayfield hill, then walked back down and around the furthest paddocks.
We repeated that for two trot sets, one canter set, and another trot set. The first trot set was ugly; the second perked up halfway through; then after that it was smooth sailing: he was stretching into contact, pushing from behind, and not quitting at the top of the hill.
Red outline is the first walk set we did, purple is the hayfield hill, about a half mile steady rise. The entire red outline is some kind of hill - the trailers near the upper right part of this image are the highest elevation point in this image.
For the last set, we trotted up the bottom part of the rectangle, then turned and had an easy canter for about 1/3 of the way up. Then I bridged my reins and asked for some speed.
BOOM. He launched himself for about three strides in glee, then chucked his head down and let fly with two or three decent bucks. I was caught totally by surprise, and on the third buck found myself on his neck.
They weren't running bucks, more like he had bolted, landed, thrown his head down, and bucked mostly in place. I had a split second's realization that I was going down, and yelled "YOU LITTLE SHIT" at the top of my lungs. I landed on my side and my hip and rolled to my butt, still holding on to the reins, glaring up at him.
He looked so pleased and confused that I couldn't stop laughing. I stood up, made sure he was steady, and got back on, and within a stride or two asked him for the gallop again.
YAHOOOOO for two or three strides, but this time I was ready and yanked his head back up and KICKED, and then he settled right in to a nice big power gallop the rest of the way up, with firm contact and a fistful of mane on my part. I had to stand up in the stirrups a bit to slow him down when we got to the top of the hill.
He was clearly sweaty and tired and very pleased with himself. I laughed the whole way back to the barn, and then turned him out into a gravel paddock to hang out and finish cooling off, bringing a bucket and sponge out instead of using the wash stall.
Best part: other than my hips & thighs from the two-point work I did, I am not the slightest bit sore from the fall. Whew!
He'll get tonight off, then a dressage school Thursday, then road hack on Friday.