While I had the flu, neither boy got to get out to play. For Izzy, that usually means he'll be tearing down the barn and wreaking havoc. When I went out on Tuesday afternoon, I was met by a very sleepy fellow who was lazily swatting at flies. I turned him out expecting to bring him back covered in sweaty foam and possibly missing a shoe.
None of those things happened. Instead, he nibbled at the grasses growing under the fence, knocked over the mounting block because he likes how it sounds, and then gave a few little bucks and woohoos because they felt good. As I hand-grazed Speedy around the outside of the arena, he happily followed along nipping at Speedy over the fence when he could and then prancing away in joy when I caught him doing it. He looked ridiculously happy and utterly relaxed.
I actually think he likes working in the sliding reins. He walked, trotted, and cantered on cue and when encouraged, he stretched deeply over his back and seemed proud of his ability to do so. When I asked for the canter, he picked up the correct lead each time and worked hard to keep slack in my line. He never argued with the bend or tried to zip off in a straight line.
We worked for just over twenty minutes. I asked for up and down transitions and always focused on relaxing his back. When his steps seemed hurried, I asked him to slow down and rebalance. At all three gaits I asked him to stretch down and was delighted that he definitely gets the concept and is now stretching down on his own.
The tense green bean that I had just three months ago is nowhere in sight. In his place now stands a more confident fellow with a bit of a playful side. It feels like a sudden transformation, but I know it is the result of hard work and patience. I feel incredibly lucky to own this amazing horse. I am quite certain that I'll be wringing my hands over the next "thing," but I know I've found a diamond in the rough who is starting to really shine.
I love this horse!