I had two really good, long rides! Well okay, each ride was like 25 minutes, so not really long, but for us... More important, they were productive, working rides. Friday night at about 20 minutes in, Riv kind of (figuratively) dropped out from under me. He was still trying to do what I asked, but the energy was gone and he started tripping a little. Poor boy was just plumb tuckered out. We had been doing a lot of trotting, trot-halt-trot transitions, and 3 loop serpentines (first time we've done them!). I eased up what I was asking him for so we could end on a good note. We walked and just did a little bending, then I let him trot once around in each direction on a loose rein and we were done. The great thing was, I still had plenty of energy! And he wasn't even sweaty, thanks to the ~50 degree weather!
Last night it wasn't so obvious when he was done, it just got harder to keep him in front of me. The ride was pretty similar to Friday in terms of what we did. His transitions are really getting good, at least in terms of promptness, and I'm working hard to keep them smooth and easy, especially the down transitions so he doesn't stiffen or brace or toss his head up. Is it weird that I love asking him to back? I know I've talked about it before, but seriously, it's so fun and satisfying to get him to do something with very very little in the way of aids. It's pretty cool, even if he doesn't respond right away (normal aids being closed fingers, sit deep, close thighs, and inside leg), I don't need to add any hand, all I have to do is tap with my inside calf/heel. Which to me means that he understands all the "not forward" aids when lightly applied, he just sometimes needs a wee bit more "move somewhere" aid.
The dressage clinic is just under 2 weeks away and I'm reasonably optimistic that I'm not going to embarrass us.
His neck is looking pretty decent, although the pictures don't really do it justice.
Princess will probably get today off... if I get super ambitious, I might longe him briefly, but that's pretty unlikely. Poor baby needs a day to recover his strength!