Okay, new year, new habits, right?
Saturday's ride: not so good. He came out tight and less than enthused. We had no bend to speak of and I couldn't keep him consistently in the bridle. Winter blahs all around, and I got a little peeved at him and his impression of a brick wall. Kept him going longer than I should have - forward was for once not really an issue, but any kind of suppleness was. He was breathing pretty hard when we finished, and took quite some time to walk out. On the one hand: definitely too long. On the other hand: building wind and valuable lessons about who decides when and how we work. Still, I would've liked to learn those lessons in a session that was actually productive.
Today, we just went out for a hack, which turned out to be a great decision. (I'm trying hard to fix, or really upgrade, my decision making on horseback.) He was tight and sore for the first 10 minutes or so, and then started swinging and reaching. I rode in jump tack, and just kept the lightest of possible touches on his mouth, asking him to soften his jaw occasionally, bend a bit for me, move away from a leg here and there. We had a couple of very short trots on the trails asking him to stretch, which he did beautifully, and then some VERY nice circles in the back field, reaching for the bit and springing through from behind.
It figures too that after such an angsty post as my last one, today at the Flatlands party I was awarded most improved boarder. :) T. said that the progress we have made as a horse/rider pair was fantastic, and that you wouldn't recognize Tris and me now if you put us beside our work of a year ago. So that was a really nice ego boost!