And what a difference they make!
As it happens I'm still struggling along, to the point where I don't mind revealing I was crying into my horse's mane tonight as I groomed him. He smells of grass and mud :) I can't say I was in the best frame of mind for schooling. Or so I thought.
I led him along to the school and thought I had best do some in-hand to start. But there were cows in the field next door. Probably a great opportunity to instill some discipline in proceedings, but he was much too distracted and I felt I'd be better able to hold his attention with legs and seat.
At first the cows were to be viewed from a halt and we had to do some advance and retreat but eventually they were considered ignorable! We warmed up with a lap of the school on each rein with shoulder-fore/in, and then set to some serpentines. The rascal clings to the outer perimeter of the school so I, rather sneakily, did our serpentines in a bit from the track. This required some reminders from my outside leg but good practice for us both. I noted that coming from a right loop he tends to want to drift when returning to straight. Wonder what it is I'm doing? I should have noticed which way he was drifting, but I didn't.
In any case, this went really well and after some leg yield on circles we progressed to the exercise Perry had us doing. Just putting him on a circle or equally bent school shape (we do good squiggles!) and using the merest of aids for bend, halt and walk.
You couldn't wipe the smile from my face, he was such a star. Naturally a little stiffer on his right rein but he hadn't been school in a couple of weeks and he was trying so hard, I could have burst! On the left rein he was fab and I didn't have to use any rein at all, he was just 'there'. Once I'd realised I didn't need to nag, I had him in both directions. Super pony.
Staying in walk, we went on to our shallow loops. They went well apart from a couple of places where, instead of riding each stride as it happened, my mind wandered and I got distracted. But he was fab.
I thought about trotting. I thought about being greedy and spoiling my session by doing so. But I felt we could do more. So we did trot. Once again sticky on that right rein but I was pleased with myself as my timing was good and I dealt with him with tact. Makes a change! We had carriage both ways and lovely soft transitions. Pony was patted repeatedly and given his tea, good boy!
His summer coat is finally coming to the fore and I can feel the end of his ribcage, so feeling quite pleased with his appearance. I think his massage has helped too :)