Been a while huh? How did I let a week slip by completely unnoticed? Don't really know how that happened. Anyway....
Memorial Day weekend was great for me. Friday I had a great ride on Tucker, managed to sneak out of work a little early and ride outside before the sun went down, and he felt great. Saturday I got to relive my glory days as a show groom and groomed for my friend Kathleen, who was champion on both Tuck and Reggie. The horses were fabulous and she rode them really, really well -- I was very proud of her. And of course, they were spotlessly clean and beautiful. There is something just so satisfying about sending a perfectly groomed horse into the show ring, and taking good care of them after a successful day's work. Old habits die hard.
Then on Sunday, I trailered Tucker over to Alicia's farm for a lesson, just a half-hour on the flat. I was curious about how he would be and what Alicia would think of how his flat work has been coming along, and she seemed pleased, which made me happy. No exaggeration, we haven't had a lesson since February, so I was a little worried that I had been left to my own devices for too long. There didn't seem to be anything too drastic to fix, which was a relief.
We worked on getting Tucker to reach down and out a little more at the trot, instead of down and a little behind the verticle. Alicia also had me half halt the outside and then softly follow when I needed to make a correction, instead of steadily hold the outside, since Tucker was bracing against my outside rein a little and sort of holding himself in place rather than really carrying himself and coming through from behind (especially the right rein, tracking left). We got some really, really lovely trot work this way and his downward transitions, which I have been working really hard on, were great. We did some cavaletti work too, and he was excellent - reaching down, balancing himself, and staying round.
At the canter, I had been feeling like he was swinging his haunches left, but Alicia pointed out that it was really more that he was popping his right shoulder, so we worked on fixing that with little half-halts in the outside rein and my outside leg firmly on his side, and some counterbending, and really got him straight again. His downward transitions from the canter were also fabulous. Tracking to the right, I need to be careful that I am sitting just as deep in the tack for the upward transition as I do tracking left. His right lead is so much easier that I think I tend to slack a little, but it results in a lower quality transition. We worked on that for a bit, but I definitely have more homework to do. Once we gave Tucker another break, we did some cavaletti work at the canter, and I was really impressed with how well he carried himself. He felt really balanced and light and kept a nice shape throughout the exercise. Such a good boy.
After the lesson I took him for a nice long trail ride around the property with our friend Brooke and her horse Olly, which was lovely. The farm where Alicia is training is just so beautiful -- there are big fields, and a pond, and a lovely path around the perimeter that is shaded by the trees. Tucker very much enjoyed himself, wandering along, taking in the sights, enjoying the breeze. Once again, I was just amazed at how laid back and rock solid he can be -- Olly spooked at one point and came scooting up behind him and even bumped right into Tucker's butt, and Tucker barely flicked an ear at him. Such a perfect gentleman. After a bath, Tucker hung out in Reggie's stall for a while and I took Reggie for a long trail ride too. Just the perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon.
Looking forward to another lesson this weekend!