This past week was a dozy, with tests in every single class and a lab report and a lab journal due, so I was quite busy. And sick. I also got sick. I think I did okay on most of the stuff, but we'll see.
Royal and BJ got pedicures on Monday, and they did really well. Royal has a groove around his left front that I'm pretty sure is from the abscess blowing out the coronet band. It looks odd but cool, and he doesn't have an extra sensitively in that hoof. In fact, he's doing great. Yesterday was the first time I've ridden in a week, so we started out in the arena, playing with impulsion and faux-bridleless riding before moving on to Finesse. I've been using my halter with Finesse reins instead of a bit, mostly to give both of us confidence and it seems to be working. Instead of focusing on where Royal's head is and if he's moving in the right frame, I've been trying to make sure we have a good connection. If he goes above the "bit", I just lightly bring my inside hand up in a suspension rein. If he goes back from it, I bring my hands back in an effort to keep the connection. Kind of combining Karen Rohlf's ideas and Game of Contact. And so far, it appears to be working. Royal's getting better and better about maintaining the connection and wouldn't ya know it, all the nice physical attributes come along with it. Sweet.
I worry about him getting arena sour, especially with winter coming up, so we went for a walk on the road. Which turned into a trot, then a walk, then a trot, then a canter, then a gallop. All intentional and all fun. When I first asked him for a gallop, I could him hesitate, almost going "Really?" Yes, really, Royal. We came back to the canter for a while, then turned around and galloped again. And it was amazing. I just started laughing, so pure was my joy as we flew down the dirt road. And Royal loved it too, wanted to do more. Not in a tense way, but in a fun way. It was great for both of us to just let loose and go as fast as we wanted. And even though that was pretty fast, I think Royal's got another gear in there. We'll probably have to wait for next year for it.
I did have to put a stop to it, as I didn't want him to get too tired or sweaty. And Royal, to his credit, moseyed back to the farm on a loose rein, totally relaxed. I'm pretty confident that he enjoyed it as much as I did, and he'll want to do it again.