It's the first time I've really ridden Saga in more than two months. We've been out on a few trail rides, sure, and out on the road a few times when it was too wet to go in the woods, but tonight is really the first time he's been out in a long time away from Red (the horrors!) and was asked to work. He had every reason to pitch a fit and be really nasty, but somehow, we ended up with a totally amazing ride - interspersed by a few moments of sheer panic, but never mind that.
Things started out poorly enough. While tacking up, Red and Saga called to each other, and then Saga was a bit of a pill walking away from the house. At one point he stopped dead and refused to go on (Red was running up and down the fenceline), but fortunately gave in when I gave him a bit of a kick. He then proceeded to spook at the deer, the rabbits, and some birds, and conveniently ran me into a mesquite tree overhanging the path (if you're not familiar with mesquite, the bloody things have thorns. Lots of really big thorns). Eventually he settled down into a nice swinging walk, even if he was very alert and called occasionally to Red.
After about 15 minutes on the trail, we came to a vacant property that's been turned into green space by the city. It used to be a horse property with a barn and a house, but it was all torn down about 4 months ago. Now, the bottom half of the land is a nice flat open field, and despite not being mown recently, the grass isnt' too tall. We started out just walking, and I asked for a little bend and moving away from my leg. Saga's attention wandered, but he remembered all the cues and did as asked, more or less.
Then I moved on to trot. And OMG, did he trot. At first it was a bit flat and hollow, but I closed my leg, half-halted with my body, and asked him to move on, and as we trotted across the field, his back just came up underneath me and he started to float. I have never felt that much power under me before; it was absolutely amazing. I'm not sure if it was the taller grass that encouraged him to engage so much or what, but wow, what a feeling! And he kept it, through the turns and changes of direction. We got unbalanced at times, yes, and rushed a bit, and of course there were plenty of times when we lost the bend as he was looking around at the goats and the donkey (see below), but as soon as I got him back together, relaxed and let him flow, it would happen. I cannot tell you how much I wish I had video of that, it was like nothing I've ever ridden. Now I know what to aim for when I ride!
OMG! Skeery donkey! And to the right (not in the picture, but obviously the focus of Saga's attention), skeery horse-eating GOATS! OMG!!!
We didn't work too long, perhaps 15 minutes total - it was hot and he's out of shape. We headed back home on a nice loose rein, and only had one minor mishap - he decided that a trash can (that we had, BTW, passed on the way out) was going to eat him, and spun and bolted. I got him under control pretty quickly, and we turned around and went past it without mishap. Red was MOST glad to see us when we got home. :)
I swear, sometimes I don't deserve how good my horse is to me. Of course, on our next ride he'll probably be an absolute nutscase, so I suppose I'll take the good while I can!