I rode Johnny last night for the first time in almost 4 days. Between him not feeling so well after the horse show plus the ridiculously hot and humid weather, PLUS his little eye episode (which has since resolved itself) I've basically just been leaving him alone. I figure that he's going to work all winter if E half leases him, so whats a few days off right?
Anyway, he was ready to go yesterday! All he wanted to do was canter and was basically pulling an Emmy..."mistakenly" taking every little signal for canter. I let him gallop up the field a bit once he was warmed up, just to get the butterflies out of his feet and he was feeling so good that when I let him stretch down he actually dropped his nose all the way down to the ground and dolphined up the hill a bit. He wasn't really bucking...just playing. When I asked him for his right lead he threw it so easily and it felt so smooth that I actually had to look to see if he had thrown the correct one, which he had. He's holding that canter lead for longer and longer now and the strides themselves feel much more even and controlled.
After our little play session we worked on some trot poles. John was surprisingly good for them (last time he was like a drunken sailor and had a minor heart attack when he realized that he had to THINK about where his feet were going) I had to keep reminding myself that I needed to be directive with him (Emmy was the kind of ride where you just turn your head and she goes there) and that he's a little claustrophobic with the bridle...a long and quiet rein makes him happiest. Thinking about doing a little more flat work today and then maybe finishing up with some jumping. If the trails are dry enough we can go over there and jump some cross-country...I'm sure he would like that!
I also snapped a picture of him yesterday with my phone...I can't believe how different he looks compared to spring time when I first started working with him...look at the change!
Above is Johnny pictured on May 14, 2009 after I had just finished clipping all of the matted 3 inch long hair off his body (save for the saddle mark and his legs) I had only ridden him 4 times.
Johnny yesterday (Aug. 11, 2009) after four months of correct feeding, deworming, grooming and good riding. What a difference! (and yes, he has a brand on his neck)