My first ride on Izzy was a bit awkward for both of us. He was pretty tight-backed even though I had lunged him first, and when I asked for a trot, I was reminded of how big he really is. The ground looked a lot farther away than I remembered. I didn't ask for much. We trotted a few 20-meter circles, and then did a few changes of rein across the diagonal. That was it.
This is a fun exercise because it really asks him to step deeply with his hind leg while maintaining a good inside bend. Once I am in the saddle, I can repeat the exercise, and I always get a good response from him.
After I leg yielded out from the volte, I quietly asked for a canter. I am learning that he needs to me to sit very lightly and be prepared to go into two-point for the first few canter strides. And as counter-intuitive as it may seem, I also have to be ready to add leg when he humps up his back and starts to buck. We went though a few bucking strides before he finally relaxed his back and cantered forward.
Once I felt him let go through his back, I was able to take a light seat and ride him forward. I was grinning ear to ear. After a few reminders of how to pick up the correct lead, we cantered both directions. I know this seems like baby stuff, but I am really pleased that after almost three weeks of no work - just turn out, I was able to hop on and get right back to work.
I was so pleased with him that I scheduled a lesson for this coming Tuesday, and I mailed off two entries for schooling shows in July. I signed up for Intro A and B because right now, he just needs more exposure. Once he can handle the atmosphere and can pick up the canter a little more reliably, we'll move up to Training Level.
But what of Speedy? Speedy officially can go back to work. For the month of July, we can do walk and trot, and in August we can start to canter. Before leaving for vacation, the vet had given the okay for walking rides on firm ground. Several times a week, I hopped up on Speedy bareback with a halter and rode around the neighborhood for 30 minutes.
While the walking rides gave him some level of fitness, he's still out of shape. I decided to begin his trot work on the lunge line. This is the second day on the line, right as I asked for the trot.
I think I'll lunge him for a week, adding my saddle in a day or two. After that, it's just a matter of building his fitness back up slowly over the month. I worked hard to keep his weight low over the four months he was off, so that part shouldn't be an issue. The thing I want to watch is that he stretches and strengthens the tendon gradually.
It's good to be back home!
By the way, I have to run up to the cabin for the night to take care of some tree removal (bark beetles plus four years of drought have devastated California's forests), so I won't be around to post tomorrow morning.