Ahhh winter...ick. Dark, gloomy, cold, rainy, windy...anyone who works a full time job knows getting riding time in the winter is next to impossible without an indoor, covered and/or lit arena. I'm lucky in that we have a very nice indoor to ride in.
Ben, however, is not a huge fan of indoor arenas. It is not that he protests or has any specific vice or fear - he is a very easy going dude and is 99.9% of the time a solid equine citizen. For whatever reason, though, his gaits are exponentially better when we ride outside. Always more balanced, even, and through. I was reminded of this on Sunday when we were blessed with a sunny warm afternoon. We took our ride outside and despite all of the goings on (rowdy horses, neighbors with chainsaws and a blustery wind) Ben was fantastic- specifically his canter. Wow. After our warm up we focused a bunch on the canter with the intention of doing the trot later, and my oh my he felt so great! He had such a nice cadence, a solid 3 beat non-pacey canter. I was able to adjust him, do shallow loops, ask for simple changes and even work on a few counter-canters. His trot to canter transitions have gotten so much clearer, and he has a solid jump into the canter now, and I'm even beginning to feel more of a lift during the canter itself.
It was really hard resist temptation to do too much. He was so great, it felt like such a blessing. No grinding, no fussiness, just pure fun. The way riding should be.
He got a day off and the next day we were back to the indoor, being sheltered from pounding wind and rain that blew in right for our ride. And just like that, all the greatness we had outside had disappeared and back to the same old ick. Bummer. The next day, yesterday, was a bit better but nothing close to what we had on our Sunday Funday.
So I know he has it in him, I know it is there, and I know we can do it. I will keep chipping away. The progress I'm seeing from when we started in the fall to now is palpable, changes are afoot and the change looks good. It is not all doom and gloom. I'm just looking for more, always trying to advance on the journey.
In other news, his "lameness" eval appointment has been set for 1/28. I'm going to continue working with him and we'll see what the 28th brings - basic maintenance, peace of mind, or heartache? I guess we will have to wait & see.