Today was gorgeous (still is actually). Mild weather, lots of sunshine. Very strange for January, but I'll take it!
I went out to see Licorice today. It was quiet around the barn and the horses were enjoying naps in patches of sunshine. I brought my tack to Licorice's pen rather than to the cross ties and he relaxed while I groomed him. I will try to take a picture of his ears the next time I am there. They are so mud encrusted that I'm not sure I will EVER get them clean. He's not a huge fan of getting his ears handled and they're so fluffy and filthy that it would be a project in itself.
I lunged him both directions and though he didn't bring his head down the way I would have liked, he was mellow and there were no spooks. Since we're back to riding, I hopped on for the cool down and did a few laps at the walk. I worked on trying to change his walk by just changing myself and my body. I was mildly successful at getting him to halt off my body, but I think mostly because we're both pretty comfortable stopping. Getting his walk to get bigger? Not so successful. But it was fun to work on it.
We did a few laps of trot on a loose rein and I will continue to increase the time trotting every week. I'm taking it slow not only for Licorice's back, but also because I'm experimenting and don't want to fall back into bad habits. I'm gauging our progress not by the speed we're going, but how we both feel at the end of a ride.
At the end of this ride, Licorice and I walked down the road a bit. I chose to walk next to him because I was alone, rather than riding him. Also because there isn't a place for me to mount outside of the arena and I don't want to tax his back by mounting from the ground. Especially since we just got back to work!
All in all, our entire interaction was happy, mellow and full of good stuff.
And thanks for the help on Western saddles! And don't worry, I didn't mean I was going to stop taking lessons or training. Lessons are my favorite thing in the world! Seriously, if I could take lessons every day I totally would.
I mean that I'm going to stop relying on someone else to solve it. A great example is if my horse is being spooky, I will not hand him over to someone else. I will work through it all the way. I've been letting us both off the hook a little too much lately and it has made us worse partners instead of better. I hope that explains it better! I will continue to learn and grow from people with more experience than I have, but I no longer want them to hold me up or even hold my hand. Independence, here I come!
Also, so sorry for the lack of pictures. I keep forgetting to pull out my cell phone and snap a photo of us!