While the nets are designed to help horses eat like they are grazing, they are no longer moving like they're grazing, which has caused Royal's hind legs to stock up. Not severely or horribly, but enough to be annoying.
I've also been able to ride him in the big field a bit, but the struggle is crossing the little valley that separates the back pasture from the field. I thought that wouldn't be a problem as he's had to cross it multiple times where they were turned out there. But now it's muddier which greatly displeases him. So he prefers to gingerly inch his way down the hill, then leap across like there are alligators at the bottom. I tried to play with him a bit OnLine to help his realize crossing the valley is no big deal. He disagrees.
At this point, I'm not sure how to address this. On one hand, he's going to have to cross this valley a lot next year since the field is the best riding place, so I want to nip this in the bud. On the other, all the slipping and sliding can't be good for his joints and connective tissues, and I don't want to risk an injury over this. So we'll play it by ear for now.
We had a very successful session with Contact today. He started stretching pretty much immediately and was more than willing to take the contact at the trot, even offering the canter at one point. He's got a fairly fluffy winter coat, so I'm trying to keep out sessions short so he doesn't get too sweaty. It seems to be working.