Finally able to ride! YES!!
I let the boys outside first, figuring since it was almost 40 degress out and the ice/snow was mostly just slush they'd like to get some crazies out after being inside for 5 days. Nope. Red rolled, Bobby trotted five steps and started eating snow, then they both came and stood by the gate. Good job, boys. They were out for all of ten minutes just standing around while i cleaned some tack and put hay in their stalls. Brought them in and fed Bobby his lunch while I got Red ready.
I went outside with the intention of just lunging today since I wasn't sure of the footing in the arena, but it actually wasn't too bad. Lunged Red in "side reins" (my draw reins double as side reins when passed through the girth and bit and then doubled back to tie to the girth again) and he was fabulous. He's got an awesome natural headset, and it's so refreshing to watch him go when you're used to seeing Bobby lunge with his head in the air and tipped to the outside and his choppy little strides.
I decided to get on him since I was dying to ride, and man, a week off from riding makes a fool out of me. I would have been kicked out of any equitation class; forget last place! I was tipping forward and my leg was swinging around and...yuck. It doesn't help that Red has a monster of a stride that's hard to trot when you're not used to it. But I got my groove back pretty quickly and we did lots of circles and figure eights at the trot. We even got a few circles of canter each way.
Bobby got the lunge/"side reins" treatment, too. He's definitely starting to learn what the side reins are and he's accepting them and using them pretty well. He'll definitely never make a hunter, but I don't want him to! He's on his way to a fab dressage headset. He's also learning to stretch out his stride without rushing, which I hope means he's becoming more balanced.
Jumped on him and did a TON of bending circles with him, just trying to get him to stay at a steady rhythm. I was really happy with this part of the ride. He was carrying his head really nicely, really listening to my cues and wrapping himself around my leg without over-bending and falling in on his shoulder. This was my first time riding him in the new slow twist loose ring snaffle and I think it made a big difference. At the canter, however...blech. I think it's because his stifles are still weak, but he cannot balance himself at a canter in a circle. Definitely need to work on that, probably more on the ground than anything. I'm going to start doing some stifle strengthening exercises I got from the Jec Ballou Equine Fitness book.
Still trying to figure out where I'm going with this show season. I keep getting lots of great ideas right when I think I have one course of action figured out. I need to make a budget and plan from there.