In all the craziness in the month and a half leading up to finals, I had very little time to play with Royal. Little tiny sessions and walks here and there, but nothing substantive. I never like to start anything that I won't be able to come back to quickly, so I felt it was better to leave Royal to his own devices and start doing stuff again during winter break. Which is now. And something has changed, which is that Royal is FAT. Really, really FAT.
I don't have any good pictures of his front profile, but Monday night I rode him bareback and felt like I was straddling a redwood. Seriously, how does this happen? How does this horse go from needed a cup of corn oil per day to maintain his body condition (in addition to grain, hay, and plentiful pasture) to round on barely any pasture in a little over two months? My horse is weird.
So I've been working on getting us back into riding shape. All my riding muscles are out of whack, which makes it easy on both of us. Neither of us are particularity fit, so we're getting it back together. It's mostly been Freestyle riding and liberty, and Royal has not lost his good brain. I played with the Steady Rein concept (lift the rein in order to slow or ask the horse to stretch) and he picked that up well. He's not so good as maintaining the stretch, but we're getting there. Since the only place to ride is the arena, it can get pretty crowded in there quickly. We're all learning to make do.
I've also been practicing my two-point position. I want to have a steadier leg over jumps, if only to not distract Royal. This means lots and lots of practicing on the flat and over pole/cross-rails. It's fairly easy to maintain at the walk (although my calves are getting a serious workout), but a bit harder at the trot. It didn't help that my barn owner was also riding her mare (who was in heat) at the time, so Royal was very easily distracted. And it is somewhat had to steer in two-point. So, things to work on and improve.
It's dark this time of year, although we're had unusually warm temperatures and barely any snow, and what little we get melts almost instantly. No one is sure what to make of it, so we manage as best we can. But I am thankful for the indoor arena.