At any rate, Banjo was out being grazed by his owner, who told me she thought I was riding him this week. I was surprised -- Banjo *is* the backup horse I ride, but FJ's been on him this month -- but went into the barn to check. Sure enough, poor Roman had gone slightly lame and was being given some time off. (He was being melodramatic about the injury -- 'oh, the pain, the indignity, please bring me many treats to soothe my woes...' -- and so was being affectionately referred to as 'Gimpy the Wonder-Horse.') I was on Banjo, bumping FJ to Chester, which bumped my classmate (who usually rides Chester lately) to Wally instead.
Came back out to tell Jennifer (one of about ten Jennifers at the stable, but this one being Banjo's owner, not Jennifer-who-owns-the-stable) that yes, I was on Banjo. She took this as a good excuse to hand him off to me to finish grazing while she went to put out his grain.
Once Banjo was done grazing, I still had about 50 minutes before I needed to be tacking him back up again. I asked if I could help with anything else, and found myself grooming Ladd and Bayley, as well as checking to make sure extra tack was put away. (I've found that around the stable, the words 'is there anything that needs doing?' are rarely answered with 'no.')
Right around the time I finished with Ladd, FJ showed up. Our classmate showed up shortly thereafter, and soon enough everyone had their horses groomed and tacked up, and we went into the center ring.
Banjo is always a change from Roman. He's harder to steer than Roman is -- this horse believes in inertia, and does NOT like to turn -- but he's much easier in nearly every other respect, so provides a bit of a vacation from Roman. This is amusing, because FJ commented that Chester is a vacation from Banjo.
(This is true; Chester is about the world's most accomodating horse. You tell him to do something, and he does it. He feels very secure and safe to ride, as well. He's also unfortunately not the best horse to learn on, because he's very forgiving of balance issues and mis-cues, and can make you develop some bad habits. But when you've lost your nerve due to a fall -- as my classmate had -- there's no better horse for rebuilding confidence.)
Mostly we worked on trotting exercises, specifically the stride length. Kara put out trotting poles, and we had to go over them with only one step between each. Banjo, being a stubby little Norwegian Fjord, didn't much care for this exercise. When I finally expressed to Banjo that I wanted him not to hop-skip-and-jump the poles, he decided he'd rather canter.
As I've not actually cantered before, THAT was an experience. Quite fun, if a little surprising. I did quickly get him back to the trot, but he decided to pull tha again one other time. Tsk.
We also had our usual 'free lesson' at the end, where we pick what to work on. I chose to work on balance and so on, and so continued the exercises our substitute teacher had us begin last week. Afterwards, we took our horses out to graze, cleaned tack, and gave the accustomed treats. Then it was off home, quite exhausted but pleased.