Pie and I continue to work on our canter together. We don't work on it long each day - less than 10 minutes as most of our work is in walk and trot, which is carrying over to the canter - but it's really coming along. He's really starting to find what I'm offering him in terms of a soft place and how to carry himself. On the left lead, the consistency of his softness and correct carriage is really increasing - he sustains it for long periods of cantering - and his corners and circles are really good as well. On the right lead, we're getting some good moments of softness, and my "riding the right lead" - where I ride the feel as if he's travelling from the left hind to right front and bending correctly around corners and turns - is really helping him - he's starting to balance up under me and carry himself without leaning or dropping his inside shoulder. As with everything we do, I'm trying to just offer him the feel of what I want and then let him find it. A sign that we're progressing is also that his canter is starting to slow down and be more relaxed - no rushing - and that his departures are improving both in terms of timing and having him lift instead of fall into canter - this means he's "reading" my offer of a change of rhythm more accurately. What a good Pie!
I'm a sucker for very smart horses - they've always been my favorites. Now, all horses are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for. But there's a range of intelligence (poor Maisie, who's now retired, certainly came out on the low end of the intelligence handout - sweet but not the brightest bulb), and all three of my horses are really, really smart - that's probably one reason I like them all so well. Dawn is very sharp - like a razor if you're not careful, but like a skilled sword if you do take care. She's one of those horses whose eyes positively glitter with intelligence. The boys were also showing off how smart they are yesterday.
The horses start coming in from turnout at around 2 p.m. and are all in by 3 or so - they go out very early in the morning. They usually start crowding around the gates around 2, and everybody's usually at the gate by 2:30. Yesterday I was watching the bring-in and noticed that Red and Pie were nowhere to be seen, even once almost all the horses were in. No, there they were - way off at the top of the hill more than a hundred yards away. Pie and Red each had a bale of hay, and were chowing down. Guess they figured they might as well maximize eating time - why waste time standing at the gate? I called them - heads popped up but they went back to eating. I walked out there, and when I was close, Pie came up to me and I started leading him in - Red caught up to us and I haltered him too and in we went. We led through the arena to our end of the barn. There's a very narrow door from the arena into the barn aisle. I just looped Pie's lead over his back, and sent him ahead - he marched right into his stall and started eating his dinner and Red and I followed. Smart boys indeed!