We started off in the arena, and got right to our trot work. The contact felt pretty consistent today. As a result, we achieved several confirmed half halts and reaching. (!) Brief and restricted to the long side that has the deeper footing, but confirmed nevertheless. Val seems to use his core and pick his back up more easily when we work in the deep parts of the arena. I'm not happy that the footing varies so much, despite nearly daily grooming, but it is helpful for me to feel when we start working correctly. Sometimes no matter how much I read about something, or how much instruction I get, it doesn't really sink in until I feel it.
So, since our arena work went very well, I decided to follow up with more out of arena riding. We walked around the property for a few minutes. I persuaded Val to go a little way towards the woods trail. He wasn't 100% calm, so I didn't push, and let him turn around. We headed out towards the front of the property, did a few circles and I would have been satisfied there, but when we got back to Val's gate, he turned around, expressing interest in more outside time. I decided not to be obsessed about steering and continued to let Val express himself. We walked back out towards and through the front gate! We even went several calm steps in each direction down the road. When we returned to the arena, I wouldn't say we side-passed, but I closed the gate from horseback :)
After all of that progress I thought some grazing reward was in order. Back out and down the road on foot. We stopped to eat a treat off the top of one of the death dealing trash cans, and then open the top and poke our noses in. Some in hand trotting to keep our soles in shape - with Val keeping my pace exactly and fully paying attention, + lots of green green grass.
As I cleaned and put away the tack, Val shared some gentle grooming. Why is it that horses always find that little bit of skin between your shirt and pants so interesting? My old ride Cowboy used to groom me there too. Val seemed like he enjoyed our afternoon as much as I did. I had to drag myself away :)