I am always amazed when I get back on after a while off. It's not that Apollo is the same horse, fitness-wise, because of course he's not. It's that he goes back to work so happily! He brings his neck round and tries to lift his back - only tries, and only manages it for a few steps at a time because fitness - and is generally pleased to do whatever I want to do. Kind of a "see, human? see how awesome I am for you? come ride more!" feeling. :)
I decided today, after riding on the flat yesterday, that I wanted to start him back under side reins today. I'd like to start encouraging his back to come up and his neck to come round, and side reins every few days can help strengthen those muscles. Obviously riding him correctly is a much bigger part of that, but this is kind of like a different workout for him. Like doing a day of abs or whatever for a human. :)
And at the same time that he's getting back to fitness for being ridden, I'm getting back to fitness for riding! My core is a little sore today after riding yesterday and then hopping on quickly today before turning Apollo over to M to ride. So that's good; sore core muscles = I was using my core!
So for the next week, I'm going to focus on riding him forward and active, which leads to better roundness. And while I do that, I'll work on transitions, especially down transitions, getting them smoother and more pleasant.
Oh - I did get to hop on the legendary Courage, too! He is a very sweet fellow, and once we figured out how to talk to each other, he was a good sport, too. Apparently my accent is funny, according to his reaction when I would ask him to come into the outside rein. ;) But we figured it out, and it was a fun ride! Thanks to the Sprinkler Bandit for the chance .... and she'll get a chance to get on Apollo sometime this week too. Only fair, right?