It was super windy but warm and sunny yesterday - yes - the sun actually felt warm. I couldn't bear not to ride. For once I didn't catch my horse napping at midday. We got cleaned up, dressed, and off we went.
Apparently the next door neighbor was hanging around near the woods by our arena (quietly for once). I didn't realize he was there at first, but Val is excellent at detecting lurkers, be they human or animal, so we had to do a little work to move through that part of the arena willingly. Leg on, keep the neck straight. He relaxed immediately once we heard the neighbor get in his car and leave. I intend to plant a thick hedgerow of Russian Olives in the woody area dividing our properties to screen the neighbors + their noise, and to discourage visiting, invited or not. Good fences make good neighbors ;)
My plan for the day was to warm up, get right to the trot, and when we were moving smoothly in both directions, to shoot some video. I had set up the camera on one of the gate posts so that all I had to do was turn it on when we were ready. Wish I had charged the battery though. It ran out right before we did our best trot work to date. Bummer!
We achieved some forwardness - this has gotten better every consecutive ride, and did a number of decent 20m circles, with prompt upward transitions. I focused on the half halt which was fairly successful at re-balancing the trot. Our downward transitions were less than smooth however, and I think the key would be half halts. Since the footing was pretty firm, we were able to do more circle work than usual. I noticed how much it helped Val for me to support him (inside leg to outside rein) on the trot circles. He was reaching, especially during our breaks on the buckle - nose to the ground. A great ride :)
We toasted the day's success with another walking trip down the road for grazing rewards and to get hooves on hard surfaces. As windy as it was, I had some reservations about taking Val out, but there was no need. He was super brave, only acting up when we came back on to the property to find Cowboy screaming his head off. Poor Cowboy - he's going to flip when we go to our next clinic.
My goals for the next few months are forward consistently, half halts and contact. (They're all kind of related come to think of it.) Oh, and to get it together with the camera!