I had a big scare at New Year when Roger was ill for the first time in his life, he's only ever had a couple of minor injuries and here he was, obviously not well and at the start of the bank holiday weekend (isn't it always the case...).   Thank you to the staff at Spire Vets who came out to help, apologies for HRH's welshiness coming to the fore when it came to injection time (no, really, I am VERY sorry, he's such a good boy most of the time...).   Luckily the colic symptoms passed but he was laid low with a virus and had another week off work to add to his winter holiday time.

So, finally had time to get a ride in once R was better and had a couple of weeks of light walk work as by this time his holiday leave was at 6 weeks and counting.   The gorgeous dry weather didn't last long and we had to leave hacking and get back in the arena quicker than I would have liked, but he doesn't cope with wet, slippy muddy ground at all so hacking becomes quite dangerous for us, I really don't need to be crushed by a cob falling on me right now.

Decided that this is the year that we will achieve true bend.   This is the same ambition that I've had, on behalf of us both, for the past 10 years, oh well.   Something seems to have changed though.   I always struggle with being tight through the hip flexors which is something that is common with a lot of riders, so I've been doing specific exercises to release them and it seems to be working.   My leg feels to be in a better place and I can give clearer aids without getting tight and blocking in the hips - hopefully will be able to get the camcorder out this week to check if this is really happening or just wishful thinking!   So with the new improved legs in place, I asked for bend, and kept asking, quietly, persistently, until it came.   Took a lot more leg power than I thought it would and I realised that usually I micro manage positioning the neck and hindquarters around the middle section rather than insisting R bends himself from the middle, and of course its easier for him so he lets me get on with entertaining myself while he gets an easy life.   

Lots of practice later, bend in walk seemed to becoming quite established so we went for the trot.   Who would have thought that keeping the loose hips, legs in place and lower leg on would be so hard in a rising trot ;).  A couple of days practising this went quite well, but then of course we hit the "don't want to, shan't, you can't make me" attitude that always comes with R.   I do love the horse but he can be hard work at times.   So he went to the default mode of lock the lower jaw, lock the neck, but here was a first - he ran!   Now, R is one of the laziest horses to have ever strolled the earth and running he does not do.   We stop, back up, go sideways, occasionally throw a tantrum and throw ourselves on the floor like a two year old child, but RUN???   After a good few laps of the arena he settled back down to work and had a gorgeous trot and walk, huge steps, really stretching through his shoulders and right out over his topline into a reasonably nice contact.   

Unsurprisingly, given that he isn't fit yet and I wasn't planning on cantering for a couple more weeks, he was tired come the end of the week, so we finished the week with a session just in long and low, but he OFFERED bend.   I was so pleased with him!   Put the leg on to create the bend, and he responded instantly, and easily, and softly and calmly.   I'm so excited by this (which readers may just consider a bit sad, but hey ho).   Really looking forward to see whether we can maintain this now.