Dawn got a rest day today - she's been working hard. I hope to get some video tomorrow of her working, courtesy of the long-suffering husband . . . stay tuned for that. You may get to see Forward Mare in action . . .
Pie continues to improve. We had a very good walk and trot work session today, with some longer sets of trot. His trot is engaged and powerful, and there was only one very slight bad step - it wasn't bad at all, just the left hind coming down slightly wrong. We did some pole sets at walk, and he dealt with that very well. Trotting around corners is improving. He's building back his strength, and it shouldn't take long as he was very fit when hit by the EPM. After our ride, we did our new neck stretches - he seemed to enjoy that.
Today I had my best ride ever on Red. His walk work, backing and trot work were soft and engaged from the beginning, forward was there from the beginning and he was even walking straight in free walk - this from Mr. Wiggle-man. There was no bracing at all, even in the upwards transitions to trot - his head came up a bit a few times but that was the end of it. Downwards trot/walk transitions were much improved - forward and fluid. I had a lovely, soft contact throughout - just a 0.5 of pressure in my hands (where a zero is no pressure and a 10 is the most pressure you could have) - a live contact with his mouth but no weight at all - it was magical. We did a lot of work on canter transitions - they were very good after all the work Heather has done over the past few days. All I have to do to get a trot/canter transition now is to have a good trot - soft and engaged and not too fast, change the rhythm in my mind from 1-2 to 1-2-3 and exhale - and he just lifts into canter. Both leads were fine, although his right lead doesn't feel as good - we worked a bit on establishing a good right bend and softness for a circle at a time, followed by resting by going straight. I had only one instance of the wrong lead - this happens when you've cantered, then trotted, then ask for canter again - he invariably wants to take the other lead - Heather thinks he was drilled (badly) on lead changes and this is the residual. To prevent this, after each canter bit, we did figures (figure eights, serpentines, diagonals) so here was no pattern that he could use to anticipate.
Every time we do new work with him, we encounter another layer that has to be undone and rebuilt - but it seems to be going faster now since the mental/emotional bracing is starting to go away. And the spooking/bolting may be related to his eye injury - it's been six weeks now and it's still healing (it's what the vet called an "indolent ulcer") and it's possible it affects his vision. The times he's bolted have all occurred when movement occurred to his left and somewhat behind him - this is the area the ulcer is on his left eye. The ulcerated area may be throwing a shadow that confuses his ability to see things in that area of his visual field. But we don't know for sure.
The weather was beautiful, and all is well.