I managed to get in three rides today. After my ride this morning (prior post) on Pie, I rode both Dawn and Drift this afternoon. Now mind you these rides aren't that strenuous - none of the horses nor I are remotely fit, so we mostly walk or do a bit of trotting. My ride on Dawn was excellent - her walk work, including transitions, was about perfect and we did some trotting - alternating laps of trot and walk. She was very forward at the trot, and I worked on allowing her to both move and find a release. It was an enjoyable session.
Drift was up next. I got acceptable but not perfect mounting on the third try - every day it's a bit better and pretty soon the issue will go away. He was very distractible and even a bit nervous - we got one spook/scoot when the goat started rattling his pen behind us - Drift's having to get used to the goat all over again. His backing was pretty soft, and his walk work was good as long as we stuck to figures involving turns and circles. On the straightaway, he would try to push down and brace and when that didn't work - I kept my hands still - he would invert and try to get a release by going above the bit. I made sure not to give him a release for going up, and after some work we were able to put together some good sequences of straight walking with softness. We worked for quite a while, and I kept asking for his attention back whenever he would get distracted. We didn't trot today - the walk work wasn't where I wanted it to be yet and we've got all the time in the world.
After feeding time I tried a little experiment with Drift and Pie before all the horses were turned out for the night (see the prior post for the issue of Drift chasing Pie in turnout). I put Pie, then Drift, out in a pasture that's about one acre. No other horses were out. Pie showed no concern and other than Drift nose flipping at him once and Pie taking a few steps away and then grazing again, nothing happened. We upped the ante by putting Charisma in her paddock - nothing happened. Then we turned out Dawn and Misty in the adjacent pasture. Although there's electric on both sides, the horses can sniff noses at the gate, and Drift did some nickering and Dawn did some squealing and striking. Pie kept grazing and Drift ignored him. End of experiment - Pie went back in his paddock for the night (he's up to 4 hours of grazing) and Drift went out with the boys. It's clear that Drift isn't that aggressive towards Pie in general, just in the context of what's upsetting him in the morning - it seems to be the other geldings being taken in from the pasture to eat breakfast that's aggravating him. I'm not sure what to do about that, but tomorrow I'm planning to put Pie out after breakfast with the geldings (I feed my horses much earlier than the other boarders do) and keep Drift in a separate pasture until the other geldings are fed, and see if that makes a difference. It's awkward and time-consuming, and there's probably nothing I can do to eliminate Drift's aggravation that he takes out on Pie, but it'll be interesting to see what the horses do. I may also keep turning Pie and Drift out together for a bit in the evenings to see if they become more connected. Horse politics . . .