Of course I've been conditioning all summer, that's part of life with a draft cross, I found, but I'm definitely logging more saddle time on Brandy now than I have previously. In fact, I'm doing my 20-minute post-dressage hack as I type this with my right thumb. Not kidding. Anyway, the neat part about that statement is that that means I'm not desperately trying to keep Brandy on the bit with both hands as we hack. Which means she's walking. Flat footed. Which actually has never happened before. I think it's a combination of 2 reasons- I did notice a vast increase in her willingness to walk when I started riding her in the Micklem bridle, and I also mentioned to Amy that I hoped the more hacking I did with her, the more she might understand that it's okay to Just Walk. I'm hoping that is finally the case!
I am fortunate (?) that Brandy's normal walk is quite forward, so there is no kicking her along, but IF she's walking and not jigging, her gait is usually quite animated- something that would look nice... Oh, say, pulling a cart. Imagine that. But today she walked like a normal horse on a loose rein! That makes me happy! Roads and tracks will be much more pleasant if she keeps that up!
The other fun thing is her dressage. She's no grand prix horse and definitely not a warmblood, but I've never brought a horse as far along as her and it's just COOL. We're currently installing leg yields for the T3D and she's really starting to enjoy trying to answer the questions I'm presenting her with on the flat. We knew that would be the case, it's just been a long road to get there. Since I grew up with NO dressage background at all, I'm learning with her and it just never ceases to amaze me what these horses, even the most unlikely ones, are able to come up with when you find the right buttons!