Well, not how you would think...
Temps did get up into the 90's right after our last ride, so we skipped out for a few days, sticking to hand grazing and ground work. Then the temps came down nicely (!) However with the cool breezes from the north came acrid smoke from a forest fire burning peat in the ground on the mainland. Trust me that it stinks! More groundwork... extended grooming sessions... mane pulling... tail banging... tack room cleaning...
Finally today we rode. After a whole week off, I guess I expected to be a little rusty. And I kept to a walk, as our footing is dreadfully deep. It is hard for me to push the wheelbarrow through it at the moment.
While warming up I asked for a turn on the forehand, and we somehow ended up backing into the electric fence. Poor Val. Often I think to turn the fence off before we ride because it's really strong and I fear touching it with my legs when we work on the rail. *warning - Darwin award material coming* Once I touched it with my shoulder while reaching in to pull the drain plug out of a tub full of water... reaching through the fence strands instead of going around - into water! Lazy + stupid. When my shoulder hit the wire it felt like a cigarette burn, or maybe a hot iron...
Anyhow - after the shock came "the great leap forward"! Thankfully I stayed on, and again a few minutes later when we got too close to the same spot. Interestingly, our ride really improved after the shock. Val listened better, and had more energy. Our school figures were very accurate, we got a bigger walk, decent contact - chewing and reaching on the loose rein, and a number of halts from seat, core and exhale / no rein.
What started out as a disorganized and frustrating ride, evolved into a success. The takeaway:
Give Val the benefit of the doubt - keep the aids light
Consistent inside leg to outside rein makes consistently round circles
Engage the core and breathe
And apparently my seat is a little better than I think it is. Val popped up and bolted forward today. Only for a few strides, thank goodness, but I was right with him. He didn't react as violently as he could have, and I didn't freak out either. Good for the confidence - that :)