Brett and I rode again Sunday morning. It was already warm at 9am when we headed out to get the horses. All of us (humans and horses) were sweaty by the time we finished grooming and tacking up. The arena was in full sun with no shade and no breeze. We didn't ride for long.
I led Lucy up to the mounting block and she stood perfectly still while I mounted. I settled in the saddle, slipped my feet into the irons, gave her a good long scratch on her neck and withers - and then we walked off into the arena. She immediately dropped her head and stretched into a long frame. Saturday, every time we passed by Brett and Mufasa she tried to stop. A boy! A really cute boy! Let me pose for you! A nudge didn't work yesterday; I had to deploy a swift hard kick to her belly. Under normal circumstances, a swift hard kick results in her head flying up and a careening lunge forward. Yesterday? I got a slow amble forward.
This morning her focus was much better. As we approached Mufasa, I gave her a gentle nudge reminder "We're working Lucy, not cruising for boys." She kept her focus on me and hardly slowed at all.
I am trying to get to a place where Lucy and I do our transitions from thought. We are making progress. My hands don't do much at all. They maintain a very light connection and I will periodically tense my ring finger as part of a half halt. When I want to trot, I bring up my energy and off we go. I rarely need to press with my calf anymore. Today, we were in perfect sync. Her canter was lovely and I didn't need to use any circles to slow her down as we cantered around the perimeter. I concentrated on following with my hands, sitting tall, and using my abs to regulate our speed.
After our ride, Lucy and I stood in the shade so she could munch on dandelions. She pulled a big clump out by the roots and started shaking it in frustration. I grabbed the root ball and held it while she ripped off the leaves. She gave me a little nicker of thanks. When I put her back in the pasture, she didn't rush the gate. In fact, she completely ignored Jackson; eating her cookie and calmly going off for a roll.
Brett had an excellent ride as well. Mufasa isn't straight at the canter and he falls out on a circle. Today, Brett tried cantering him on the long side of the arena instead of on a circle. Mufasa was much straighter and more relaxed than he had been on Saturday.
Back at the tie rail, Brett took off Mufasa's bridle and then undid the cinch. Brett's fingers are arthritic and he has trouble gripping things. (He dropped a basket of eggs last week after collecting them - and Kersey thought she had died and gone to heaven as she slurped them all up). Sunday morning, Brett lost his grip on the cinch buckle and it dropped against Mufasa's side, causing him to spook. The spook caused his saddle and pad to slip off onto the ground. Mufasa pulled back and took off with the lead rope flying behind him. Brett walked over to the pasture fence where Mufasa had stopped. Unlike in the past, Mufasa stood still and waited for Brett. This is huge for Mufasa. He trusted Brett to help him and he trusted Brett not to be angry. Lucy and I stood up by the barn watching. I wanted to clap -- and Lucy wanted to give Mufasa a big kiss.