His dressage is progressing more and more as he starts to get a handle on real lateral work, moving his haunches and shoulders without getting tense and quick is hard for him and will continue to take more time, but we're progressing! He is much easier to pop right into a nice forward consistent rhythm, and is really getting a grasp on moving forward into a consistent contact. We've been getting longer and longer periods of relaxed and forward moving gaits, the rest will follow in time!
I've also started working on rating his canter in the ring, getting my body used to aids he already knows from the track, and getting him used to the added leg to those aids. Locking my joints and holding him back with my upper body while keeping leg on to keep his hind end engaged, and then allowing with my body in a more forward position to push his gait out. It's pretty much old hat for him, esp. to the right, but I want to make sure those buttons aren't rusty when we really start doing more work outside in the field.
Speaking of, we have been doing some work out of the ring, and he is eating it up. He's done a little trot and canter with a buddy - never getting strong, and coming right back to a walk (no jig, yay!). We've also jumped our first "Cross Country jump". We found a small little log out on the trail, and he trotted right over it, cantering away looking for direction as to where to go next. Since we don't have any real cross country jumps to school over at Alfred, that's going to have to wait.
That brings me to my next exciting bit of news, Ryker will be coming home with me for the summer (if he doesn't sell first)! Not only have I fallen in love with him (surprise, surprise) but he seems to be turning into the just horse I was looking for (such luck!). Since my Training horse is now retired to be a Beginner Novice packer (lucky old man!), I've been searching for my next ride, and on a limited budget - an OTTB is my best bet. My other personally owned OTTB, She's and Optimist, who is also a bit of a re-sale project, and Ryker get to compete this summer for their spot as my next event horse (IF he doesn't sell before mid May) -- while I work my butt off to pay for board for three! Both of them are talented, "Cheesey" is already turning into a XC machine after two schools at 6 years old, but since Ryker's natural movement in dressage will beat her any day, it's going to be tough. One of them will be sold this summer, so keep your eyes peeled, they're both awesome athletes! (and don't worry, I'll keep you all updated on his adventures this summer at Triple Combination Farm)