Today was a very good three-horse day.
The last time I rode Dawn was a week ago today. First I tweaked my back, then she was very sore from her trim. So today, we finally rode again. It was very cold this morning - wind chills below zero - but the horrible wind from yesterday had mostly died down and the sun was shining brightly. I retrieved Dawn from turnout - she was coping well with the cold - funny how that happens the day after she's been stuck inside - and brought her inside. It was just barely 20F in the indoor - about at my limit for riding.
I wasn't at all sure how Dawn would be today - she'd had 6 days off, it was very cold and the horses haven't really been able to move around much in turnout due to the ice and hard-frozen, chopped up ground. So just to be safe, I put her on the lunge line first. Dawn and I have a deal about lungeing and other groundwork - if she's a maniac or there's bucking and kicking out, we work until she can listen to me, relax a bit and nicely do what I ask in terms of transitions - but if she's calm and listens to me, we can stop. Although Dawn can certainly have her moments, today she was golden. She walked nicely until I asked for trot and stopped trotting and halted as soon as I stopped - I don't stand still in the middle when I lunge but move with the horse to convey the level of energy I want. Same thing in the other direction. It might as well have been 80 degrees as far as her behavior went. She was simply telling me that no lungeing was necessary. What a good mare!
We only lunged for a couple of minutes, and then I just got on. We then did about 20 minutes of walk/trot work - she was very alert and forward, but completely responsive. We were then interrupted for a few minutes by the arena being dragged, and I got back on for some more trot work - I don't want her to think that the drag coming is the signal that we're done working - but we didn't work long as I don't want her to get sore again and need to see how she does. I told her what an outstanding mare she was and turned her back out.
It had warmed up considerably outside by the afternoon and it actually made it over 30F in the indoor arena. I had very nice rides on both Red and Pie. Both boys were really interested in moving out, since they've got no way to do any real moving around outside. Red was very forward, and we did quite a bit of canter work, which is sometimes easier for him than trotting. We even did some continuous canter work on his right lead, which is often more difficult for him, but it felt pretty nice today. His canter on both leads had quite a bit of lift and drive today. We also did a fair amount of trotting - he was somewhat stiffer on the diagonal tracking right. There was some had shaking today at various moments - I'm not entirely sure what it means but I think it means that he's feeling feisty and excited - it's perhaps his equivalent of (and far preferable to) high-energy bucks, and since the head shaking isn't a problem for me as he keeps right on working I don't really mind. When we were done, I told him what an excellent Red man he was.
Pie was also quite forward today, although not nervous or spooky like yesterday. He did some very nice trot and canter work, including a good amount of sustained canter in both directions - he was moving very well and able to carry himself repeatedly around corners and turns without falling on the forehand/falling out of canter. His trot was also quite forward - he's never going to be a long-strided horse but he was offering what he could and it felt very nice. He also was told what a excellent Pie he was.
Even though it's still winter, and likely to be so for some time, I'll take a day like today any time.