We had a few inches of snow last night, and the horses enjoyed it - it make the footing just a little bit better. When I got to the barn in the early morning, and went to get Dawn, I saw Dawn and a couple of other mares galloping across the pasture. As I walked out, the mares stopped, and Dawn turned and walked towards me, and kept on coming, passing a hay bale on the way. She stopped a couple of yards away from me, ears up, and waited for me to come up to her and put her halter on. This was pretty unusual - Dawn usually ignores me, and sometimes walks off when I approach, and occasionally is grumpy enough that she will snap in my direction as I put on her halter. Today she seemed happy to see me. We then made our usual detour to the water tank and she had a nice drink - I always do this when I get her from the pasture in case she's thirsty before our ride.
We went on to have an outstanding ride - Dawn had the day off yesterday. We did lots of trot work, including shortening and lengthening, and series of small circles up the long sides of the arena. I tried to give her my best position - eyes up and posture erect, minimal posting and keeping my elbows back and close to my body. At the end of our ride, she gave me some of the most engaged, soft medium trot we've ever had down one long side. When we reached the end of the arena, we walked and then halted and I got right off and thanked her for working so hard.
In the afternoon, Red and Pie both gave me their best too. Red and I did our usual walk warm up, and then I let him choose how long we did our up-the-middle canter warm ups. He opted to canter the length of the arena about five times and then he continued around the corner in trot - he was ready to trot. This was quicker than usual, and his trot work was the easiest it has been for him in a while - he stretched out fairly quickly. His medium trot after he warmed up felt very good - lots of elevation and drive - and we also did some canter work that was good as well. We did a number of sets of canter as well as trot. There was no head shaking, and he was soft and engaged throughout. I told him what an excellent Red he was.
Pie and I mostly had the arena to ourselves today, except for one person who was lungeing for a while. I worked on my posture and keeping my eyes up - when I did this consistently he stayed soft, and forward, and bent well into the corners. His canter work was as good as the trot. There was one patch of snow in the ground just inside one of the arena doors that worried him for a while, but I ignored it and we kept working closer and closer to it without forcing the issue and by the end of our ride he could have cared less about it - I just let him figure it out for himself. At the end of our ride, we worked on shortening and lengthening the trot, just off my energy level. He did very well on this, once he stopped doing more than I asked and walking or halting instead of just shortening the trot. Pie is extremely smart, and is prone to anticipating what we're going to do next if I establish any pattern - he wants to please so much. When he starts anticipating, it's usually a sign that I've been doing things in the same order or making turns or transitions at the same places. We worked on him not getting ahead of me, and staying with me and waiting for my direction - or maybe we worked on my staying ahead of him and giving him leadership. I mixed up the patterns - when we cantered or trotted, whether we shortened or lengthened in a particular spot, where we turned. He did very, very well, and I told him so, and the fact that we were by ourselves in the ring helped me keep my focus.
Both Red and Pie will follow me at my direction, or stop and stand and wait for me - I just hold my hand up and ask them to wait - to do something in the arena - I'm pleased with their attentiveness and willingness.
Another fine day with three great horses!