Sage has gotten ridden every day since I've been back. Okay, so that's a grand total of two days, but really, it's the most I've ridden in a long while. It's nice to have a sound horse again, even if she is green and comes with a little baggage (aka Chinook). Here are some highlights of what we've done:
-circled around barrels
-side-passed over poles
-opened, ridden-through, and closed gates behind us
-tried to trot under saddle (didn't work--actually, she just kept getting slower--despite working several times on trotting both in hand and on the lunge line to the voice command)
-ridden in the driveway
-ridden in the paddock
-ridden in the big pasture alone while Chinook was freaking out and playing
For all of this she has been exceptionally good, and very responsive to leg pressure and rein cues. For example, I typically keep a loose rein, but even with a loose rein you have some security in that your reins are "picked up." Last night, we were out in the pasture, and she was thirsty. She motioned to the water trough so I let her drink. But to do this, I pretty much had to drop my reins altogether. So here I am, and it's a cool evening, the neighbors are out, there's lots of stuff to spook at, and I'm sitting on a 3 year old green broke mustang with basically no control of her head. Believe me, thoughts crossed my mind about what she could do to dump me at that moment. But at the same time, I trust her sensibility. She has never given me any reason to believe that she is going to spook and bolt, buck, or anything like that. And I think that a part of giving a young horse confidence is the rider agreeing to trust the horse a little bit. Kind of like people, isn't it? Sometimes you have to trust them to do the right thing, and your confidence in them pays back in many ways.
And...Chinook is doing a bit of training himself. Every night now he stands tied to the grooming post and gets brushed and his feet picked out. Although he still argues a bit about his front feet sometimes, he is being very good overall. He just knows what he needs to do and he loves to be brushed. I even rasped a few edges off of his toes, although with all the rocks and gravel around here, he does a great job of trimming himself.
I have also started "creep" feeding him; that is, feeding him a little bit of concentrate in his own area where Sage can't get to it. Not that he needs more calories! He's definitely big. It's just a way to give him a sense of routine and get him thinking like a big horse. He gets a handful of soaked Safe Choice and that's it, just after his grooming. What a little man he is turning out to be!