While I was off being anxious, good stuff happened, too.
I got a saddle plate and matching bridle tag!
The saddle plate is a life saver since there's a nearly identical saddle in the school (Theo's old saddle). Sure, mine has front gussets and doesn't have a patch on the seat, but in a school program, they're identical. So now you can tell from a mile away that this is my saddle. No one was going to mix up my bridle, but I'm all about the matchy matchy. Swanky Saddle is my source for all things monogram and I love the variety of saddle plates and tags they offer. I wanted something rather bold and unique, but still a monogram. This fit the bill perfectly. It's the dressage size which looked huge when it arrived, but on my saddle? Love it.
You may also spy a new bit. I've got the Neue Schule Verbindend in 12mm on trial from Dressage Extensions. Thank goodness for test programs because mi papi takes a 6" in this bit. Insane! No bit is going to be a magic bullet, but with this, I am back in the dressage gear and my shoulder is not requiring ice after I ride. It's about as much snaffle as I can legally use in dressage, which seems to be the right amount.
Also appears to be tasty, we have some foam!
I think I'm going to keep this bit. It's just enough that I can say 'hey, don't be rude'. He's accepting it well and plays with it happily.
As far as the riding goes, I've stepped way back in terms of what we're working toward. We're working on going around with a nice lift through his back and a soft, soft contact. I'm still requiring him to let me set the flex, but trying to get his neck as long as possible so that he looks like a bow over his topline. I'm seeing some muscle disappearing in front of his withers, so time to really strengthen that topline with transitions. Lots of focus on soft, soft, soft. Leg yield a few steps, pet him for not bracing or trying to invert, go back the other way. I haven't really worked on my laterals in months, high time we got back to work on that.
And I've broken my left lead canter some how. Used to be the right, now it's the left. Thanks, papi. So I'm picking my way through that, figuring out where exactly he's locked up. I think I found it in the leg yield along the wall, he was much better after a few passes of that. His leg yield off the right is so lovely, his left is stuck. His right lead is good, his left is stuck. This gives me a good start on isolating the problem. Tomorrow I'm going to work on shoulder in without him bracing through the neck and poll. I suspect he's going to try to brace going to left, so we'll start with some shoulder fore and nudge along from there.
But we had a pleasant, productive, non-painful ride in a snaffle. Score! Many banana flavored cookies for the pony. I hate banana, but he's in love with Smartpak's new guilt free cookies. At least they're good for his waistline.
And then a rain sheet because we have a frost advisory tonight and he's already clipped and it's raining. UGH.
It can't be blanket season already!!! I refuse!!!