That's what I have to report: All Good Things about my babies.
Tucker and I had another great ride last night. This time we went back to our regular flatting bridle. I don't think I ever caught you all up on the results of my bit search, but I've settled on a plain egg butt full-cheek Dr. Bristol bit. He is going really well in it: accepting but not leaning, and I can take more contact without any fear that he's going to get behind my leg or curl behind the vertical. It seems like it's a comfortable fit in his mouth, and most days we have foam on the left and right side. Good signs!
It rained all day yesterday, so Tucker only had his brief hour or so in the round pen. It's enough to get him walking around, but sure doesn't compare to his usual 8 hours of grazing in a big field with Tigger. So, given that he hadn't been walking around all day, I walked him for longer than usual to get him warmed up, for about 15 minutes until I could feel him start to loosen up. We had a fabulous upward transition to the trot, no resistance or stiffness in his head and neck, balanced and light and springy. We trotted for a while doing lots of changes of direction, big circles, small circles, serpentines, and some shallow leg yields off the rail to get his haunches tracking straight. Then I did a couple of downward transitions and they were awesome! Yay Tucker for remembering what you learned the day before. Love this horse.
Then I shortened my stirrups to jumping length since there were some little 2' - 2'3" jumps set up in the ring and as we cantered around I would work in a jump here and there, thinking about incorporating my flat work into the jumping. I also worked on what we practiced in my lesson last weekend, which is carrying my hands through the turn, sitting lightly, and keeping my leg on so he doesn't get slower, making sure that when I lift my right hand, my left follows. (My hands don't seem to communicate with one another at all. I am a walking embodiment of the addage: the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing.) The jumps were tiny but that's actually perfect, because it allows me to work on rhythm and pace and straightness and my position without making Tucker work too hard.
Tucker also really seems to enjoy when I break up the monotony of our week day rides (he finds most flat work to be a total snooze fest) with something a little more interesting. He was awesome. Got all his lead changes, or landed on the correct leads, and totally listened to everything I asked, whether I was collecting the canter and asking for a shorter distance or sending him forward and softening my contact for a slightly bigger distance. I hesitate to say it... but I almost feel like we have a dependable lead change.
And onto news from a little farther south... Miss Julie continues to be a super star. I got a report from Celia last night that Julie went back to work this week after having a few days off to think about what she learned in the first week of "class." Julie was "perfect" and stood still to be saddled, and Celia did a little ground driving with her on Monday. Yesterday, Julie got to carry around what Celia describes as "Mister Pants" (which I imagine is a pair of pants stuffed with something, like the bottom half of a scarecrow), which they use to help the babies get used to weight and legs banging off their sides. According to Celia, Julie couldn't have cared less... she thinks that Julie would much rather be eating! (Girl after my own heart.)
They are going to try to send me some pictures of Julie tacked up, which of course I'll share with all of you when I get them. I am so encouraged by the fact that she's been so good so far. I am starting to think that maybe we have two wunderkinds in the family....