Over the next couple weeks, I rode Maia two more times, and Diane spent a session with me, introducing lunging while a rider is on board. I had only trotted a few steps up until then, but this time was different. We allowed her to trot off whenever she felt like it, which was often. Forward movement was our primary goal. Whatever speed, whatever direction, just forward. Her balance hadn’t yet been established whatsoever, and without a sidewalker she had nothing to stabilize her movement. She took the contact well, with no resistance or head flipping, but I kept a light feel to keep from making her feel pressured. It was not the best lunge she’d ever had, but it was the best I’d ever had. I was euphoric.
After that it was time for a break. I worked her very lightly, just in a bridle, and then she had a real vacation for about a week, while I focused all my energy on Alice, the chestnut mare I trained in dressage. We kept to grooming on the days I could fit it in, and she even got her first ever bath, which went quite well, considering some horses I’ve seen near a hose. I began working Alice in the mornings, so I had most of my afternoons open for Maia, and we were able to get back on schedule. She was feisty, of course, but she fell back into step quickly, and the second day back I lunged with the saddle and sliding side reins, and it went very well. At my next opportunity, we would ride again.