I weighed him again this morning with the tape right up behind his front legs - 478kg. I'm still not sure it's accurate, after all a 15.2hh Thoroughbred weighs around 450kg and Merlin's MUCH chunkier, but at least it gives me a number and I can see if his weight is going up or (hopefully) down. At the moment he's getting one handful of sugar beet pellets (soaked) with a tennis-ball-size handful of chaff twice a day. In the morning he has a 15g scoop of garlic powder to help keep the flies away (he comes up in big lumps from midge bites) and if he's been ridden or lunged he has a small handful of Dodson & Horrell Leisure Mix as a treat. It's odd how a horse who can live off fresh air in summer goes so thin in winter - by the end of January he was on four Stubbs scoops of Build Up a day and still losing weight.
Anyway, the poor horse is currently in shock at being ridden twice in two days. I nearly, nearly took him down to the beach, but the wind picked up and I thought he probably wouldn't appreciate sand blowing in his face, so once I'd caught him (unsurprisingly he wasn't too keen on coming near me when he saw the headcollar, but he's a sucker for a carrot...) we went into next door's school again. It only took two attempts to get him lined up by the mounting block and he was good as gold for me after that :o)
We did five minutes' warm up in walk, including a couple of passable 20m circles, changing rein on weight aids and then tried a bit of trot. Not a success. He's willing enough to go forwards off the leg, but he finds trotting in the school hard work because it's deeper going than he's used to and my riding muscles haven't been used in 7 years, so I'm terribly unbalanced. I kept it short and sweet, a few steps at a time, just round a corner or along a short side and when I felt a little bit more confident pushed him on to do a whole circuit of the school. The biggest problem was that I kept tensing my inner thighs which tilted me out of balance. When I remembered to wrap my lower leg, keep my heels down and not over-rise it was much smoother. When I gave him a long rein he stretched down, so although he's not working in an outline yet he's starting to work the right muscles. He was working lower than yesterday though.
I hopped off at that point because I thought the saddle had slipped a bit. I repositioned it and he stood perfectly at the block for me to get back on, so lots and lots of praise for that :o)
And then it went marginally pear-shaped. Mick opened the back door to let the dogs out and Merlin did the tiniest of tiny spooks - it was literally a step sideways and two steps of canter, but I let out a big girly shriek! Bless him, the moment he heard it he stopped immediately, which has given me a lot of confidence in him :o) I know, from the way my brain works, that if I'd cut the session short I would have let that tiny spook build up in my mind, so I pushed him on and we did lots of trot and finished with a very short canter across the diagonal before cooling down on a long rein again.
He can have a day off tomorrow because it's my busy work day, but I'm still going to go and catch him and groom him, just so he doesn't get the idea that being caught always means work.