The hunter pace last weekend was very nice, just a bit windy. The TWH had gotten a bath on Thursday and it was a hard gamble that he wouldn't roll and/or become a filth monster before our ride on Sunday but thankfully it paid off! When I went out Sunday morning he had used a pile of poo as a pillow for his withers but the rest of him was clean(ish) so after a quick application of Miracle Groom, we were ready to go. I had a clean looking cream colored horse!
I met up with RB3 and a friend of hers and we went out as a team of three and had a great time. It was pretty windy and chilly, with it only being in the low 40's, but since we moved out at a trot/gait/canter for most of the ride we stayed pretty warm. I was very thankful I had brought my insulated gloves and ear wrap and had also worn my insulated breeches though. The ride was about 50% woods, 30% roads and 20% fields, it was also 50% shorter than the summer ride due to lack of volunteers. We cantered most of the road parts and I even push the TWH into a nice gallop at one point, he is so easy to ride! While I wasn't getting the "rocking horse" canter, his canter is extremely smooth and not bouncy, just a big swinging couch. I was a little disappointed in the length of the ride, it took just under an hour instead of over 2, but it was very beautiful and they give out cookies and cider so it was still well worth it lol. The TWH did well in the front and in the middle of the pack and despite wanting to go-go-go when the front horse would take off cantering, he listened really well and made it a very nice ride. He even went over the couple of jumps I pointed him at, not refusing although he did require a tremendous amount of leg. Go TWH!
Last night I had my first lesson in months, it has been since I believe June since I last took a lesson. I wanted to work mostly on my position though we worked the TWH pretty hard too because H said my position is pretty dang good. She said I wasn't leaning nearly as far forward as I seem to think I am and my position has greatly improved since I started taking lessons last year. Success! Still need to work on keeping my hands even closer, stop looking down so much and she wants me to try to start riding with bridged reins, currently it is all but impossible with the TWH but I will start trying.
The TWH is very obviously out of shape for w/t/c work and he did try but he dropped and switched his gait a lot. H kept saying how amusing he is to watch because he is SO different. She said he has all the right parts and does things like have awesome hip swing and overstride but it is done in the wrong way so while he may look great he isn't using himself correctly. We have a long way to go to get the trot back to being solid and then get him to push off of his big ol hind end.
At the end of the ride we finally started working on the canter, a gait the TWH likes to use in avoidance of hard trot work. The TWH is obviously strung out, on the forehand, a bit unbalanced and requires a lot of push to stay in gait since he hasn't been worked hard all year (stupid broken me). While H was watching our canter she said she finally figured out why he is looking so strange. Our beloved TWH appears to have created himself a new gait, we have christened it the Panter. This is a solid 3 beat gait that looks like a canter but instead of the footfall being left hind, right hind/left fore then right fore it is left hind/left fore, right hind, right fore. He is pacing with his outside legs and cantering with the inside legs. Really horse? We made several examples and change directions, discussed it for a while, called it a night and I went to work searching on old footage. Certainly he couldn't have been doing this all along, this is obviously because he is out of shape right? This morning it was confirmed, he has been Pantering this whole time. *le sigh*. Not sure how to proceed, I really don't want to sell him because he really is a nice horse but he keeps showing me he isn't suited for what I want to do with him. Ugh. What to do?