A school horse with a twisted shoe led to me having a happy reunion tonight. Baby pony!
My friend's chosen mount was out due to his footwear problem, so I gave her Theo and I stole the baby pony from one of the teens. He's gotten so big, all the way up to five years old now. He's filled out a lot and I no longer feel like I might capsize him. His head tossing temper tantrums from the summer have also abated, at least for riders that know what to do with their hands. His questionable brakes have him in a slow twist, but I somehow doubt he'll need that once he's done being a teenager.
We spent a good ten minutes discussing the fact he should stop and stand with a minimal request from me. Once we had that, we started trotting. I had to keep my inside leg on until he quit flailing at it and collapsing in on the circle. Once that happened, he magically dropped down and stretched out his neck instead of bracing and holding his head up like a giraffe. These poor ponies, all so shocked to discover I'm not easily intimidated. Flail all you want, once you're tired, we'll do it the right way.
We did figure eights with him stretched out, transitioning between walk and trot like a gentlemen. He's a horse that takes very well to positive chatter. When I made a big fuss over him, patting him with both hands and loving on him, it really locked a behavior in. There was licking and chewing once he figured out he could chew the reins out of my hands.
He's finally cantering in lessons, though it's still a bit wild. His barrel racer roots like to come up when the speed turns on. He tends to anticipate, rush, and generally flail about at the canter. We got good work in both directions. I've been doing this long enough that I could get the leads on the first try, control his shoulders enough to keep him from diving around, and control the tempo while letting him have his neck. It wasn't easy, far from it, but Trainer A was very happy to see him cantering around in a calm way. He doesn't get a lot of practice cantering with experienced hands.
She also said she was happy to see me on another horse again. I suspect Wednesdays are going to become the night where I play the pony parade game. It's good for me, but ugh, I hate using school tack. That saddle was horrible! And those web reins, how does anyone work with those? I wonder if my saddle would fit on the baby pony . . .