Last night, I arrived at the barn just before the storm broke, with the intention of seeing where Tristan's dressage was. We've just committed to another show on August 7 and since our last show we've been doing a lot more wandering around fields than schooling.
So I got on, and (I admit it) turned on Pokemon Go to log my steps because I have eggs to hatch, and committed to a long, slow exploration kind of ride.
It was kind of boring. But it was also kind of magical. The rain was coming down hard, and the beautiful white noise of water on a barn roof blanketed everything. I concentrated hard on my position - sitting up, opening my hips, keeping my hands steady and my elbows loose and following. I focused on setting simple directives for Tristan and quietly but firmly holding him to them.
Conclusion: it's all in there, but he's lost some condition. I think that's the hardest part of everyday Cushings management for me. He's never been an easy horse to keep in condition, but as soon as he's out of work, muscle just melts off him. It's demoralizing.
He was responding, seeing the bit, stretching, coming into the bridle - but he was heavy, and getting him lighter was more of a fight than I wanted to pick last night. So I didn't. I let him tell me what ride he needed, and after 25 minutes we had a lovely energized trot on the bit, our canter transitions were straight and prompt, and I called it quits.
Here's a current conformation so you can see what I mean by muscle vanishing. This is after 2 weeks off + lighter schedule for 2 more weeks. His back makes me sad.