2. Progress on our stiffness issues. It's still hard for me to guess how much of his weirdness is stiffness and how much is tiredness/laziness. The more I think about it, I think he was showing these same signs of stiffness before we moved. I remember feeling around the time of my last show that his one-sidedness was getting really bad. Our Equitation pattern of a figure 8 was a disaster, whereas the straight-line horsemanship pattern was much better. I do think he had more energy at that time. His turnout time is much increased and that is very likely a factor. I'm interested to see if/how much this changes when the weather gets cooler. I'm used to his "tired lip" now, but it wasn't seen much before we moved. This is how he looks.
He is certainly more energized outside so I've been riding out there as much as possible. Even with the rain we've had the outdoor still has excellent footing. I've worn a circle in the outdoor this past week or so. I've been working on a circle a lot to try to encourage him to bend properly and I do believe it's been helping a lot. Today in particular I thought our canter work was the best yet. He stayed on our circle very nicely both directions and he didn't feel like he was counter-cantering like he had been. I even got a compliment from one of the boarders who said our canter was "just lovely, so smooth and collected. You just looked like you were having such a nice ride." Neat!
3. Progress on our new life as trail riders! Yesterday we took a walk around the whole bean field. There is a nice wide grass trail around the whole field between the woods and the soybeans. He is very alert on these rides and he strides out nicely, but I can tell he's nervous. When we were far enough out that we could not see the barn he was the most nervous. He did spin around once but I simply told him to whoa and turned him back around and we walked on. He spooked another time, too, but nothing major.
Today we went into the far woods by ourselves and did the same two stream crossings from that day with Max. He still is not a fan of the stream crossings, even though there is not running water. He will still walk through big reflective puddles in the driveway, but he does NOT like the stream beds. He did really well considering we were alone. I spend a lot of time talking to him. He seems to aim for all the lowest branches though and he bonked my knee on a tree. Trail mount he is NOT...yet. But I just LOVE having these places to ride in. It's so much more fun than circles and I'm sure the small hills are good for him, too. I just got a new iPhone app called Trails that will log your trails on a map and give lots of interesting stats like ascent and descent, duration and speed. Then you can look at the trail maps you make. Sounds cool. If only I remember to turn it ON!