Started with a trail ride. I rode Z and ponied Rain. We went about 4 miles at the walk. Z left the herd easily and gave me no trouble at all. All the trail riding we've done together makes her more like the kind of horse you can let stand for months and then hop on and go. On one section of the trail, Z was tentative and stopped to listen often. Typically, she gets nervous and moves her feet a lot so I had to smile when she was thoughtful about proceeding. I encourage this behavior in her and in all my horses. If she's wary about moving on, she can stop and think it through - I will always try to not push her through her thresholds.
Rain was lazy and sometimes wasn't very light to the pressure of the halter on her poll. That's ok, I haven't ponied her in a long darn time so we can work on that. I'd like to get her more fit and start doing some trail competitions with Rain this spring/summer. For Z, I want to get her on some endurance rides and potentially hit a 50 this year. We've got lots of conditioning to do, so we'll see.
When I got home, I worked with Gem on the ground. I spent some time going over the self-assessment checklist and the requirements for L4 Online submission and decided to build on our skills and fill in any holes we had. Some items I just wasn't sure we could do. I was pleasantly surprised to get out there and realize while Gem didn't know what I was asking for, I taught him in a few minutes time (lead by the ear, lip, hock for example). We have a good foundation and that helps. Then, I wanted to work on building more gait maintenance as he tends to break down and transition to a walk if he has the option.
He got tense twice on the 45' at the canter on the circle. At his tense moment, he sped up into a gallop and ran "home" (to the barn). I went back to the 22' so I could handle it better when he got that idea. He gave me the opportunity (thankfully) to correct this behavior and I'll have to watch that he doesn't learn that he can do that on the 45'. We might need to stick to the 22' a bit longer until that idea is gone. Otherwise, we made some nice, nice progress on maintain gate and got 6-8 trot laps on the 45' and more on the 22'. it felt like great progress and I look forward to building on that.
I spent some time in zone 5 driving from point to point and then finished with some trailer loading. He's great at trailer loading so now I need to build some distance and some more "sweetness" to the trailer. I'm thinking we should start filming so I can see how we look, where we are and what I should modify and practice. I hope to have a L4 Online submission ready in the next month or two. I'm excited to be setting goals like this! It's been a rough few months of holidays, work travel, family vacations, short days and bad weather.
Chrissy played with Cowboy a bit and he got away from her a few times and headed "home". She did a great job of persevering and trying to set him up to run home so she could get him in hand. Gem ran straight at them twice when he fled the circle and Cowboy took off with Gem.
I also got Gem's rights trimmed. Need to do Cowboy and Starlet and touch up Rio's hinds. Hoping to get those done this week. Cowboy needs a soak.