We filled hay bags and tied them to the trailer. Winston dug into his bag and chomped away while Brett tacked up Flash. We followed them into the arena. Winston was looky but well behaved. I kept in mind something Chloe at The Wild Horse Project wrote about in this post. Without repeating her whole post, which I recommend reading, she says that horses behave (or not) at shows based on our expectations. So, I firmly and confidently expected Winston to be a level headed boy -- and he was. We spent about 30 minutes in the arena walking on a loose lead, playing with the mounting block and doing some in-hand work. By the time I took him back to the trailer to tack him up, he was calm as a cucumber.
Back in the arena, he stood perfectly still while I tightened his girth and lowered the irons (we've been working on this at home). Mounting was a piece of cake. Brett finished his lesson and left the arena. Winston looked at them go but never hesitated in his work. We didn't do much of a walk warm-up since we'd already been walking around. We went straight to trot.
Gayle said that it is common for horses who are naturally light in the bridle to fuss with the contact. We will establish it at trot and canter and then when he is comfortable and secure, it will come at walk. No big deal. No worries. (I love Gayle). At trot, she had me take steady contact with the outside rein. When he fussed or slowed down, I was to squeeze the outside rein and, at the same time, drive him forward into that contact with my legs. It worked like a dream. By the time Brett finished taking care of Flash and came back to the arena with the video camera, our trot was better than I ever got from Jackson. I was stocked.
Poor Jackson just couldn't do much. Between his conformation and his bad feet and his worrying, we never really progressed. It was the same lesson over and over again. Jackson was full of try and wanted to please in the worst way, but he was also stressed and uncomfortable.
Winston is confident and Gayle loved how he is put together. He has strong legs, strong joints, a very open shoulder and works under himself very well -- especially at canter.
Brett video taped the last 10 minutes of my lesson. Winston was pretty pooped out by then and we had the outside rein/squeeze thing down. So, you won't hear Gayle talk about that too much. We had moved on to serpentines and a little bit of canter work. Brett got that part. If you turn up your volume, you can hear most of what Gayle is telling me.
After not having a lesson for almost exactly a year, it was wonderful to be back to work. On the way home, Brett told me that it was nice to see me excited about riding again. I am SO HAPPY, it's not even funny.