But what seemed worth noting was from last Tuesday. I was on Derby as usual, but my classmate was put on Roman instead of Ladd. After five or six minutes she couldn't even get him to move, as he kept walking into corners, and so I offered to trade mounts. Let her ride Derby for the lesson, and I'd ride Roman.
It was odd, getting back on him. He's wider than I remembered -- and he seems to have put on weight since I was riding him -- and I forgot how much effort it takes to keep him moving and how he'll try to buck a little bit if he really feels stubborn and you push him. I'd also forgotten what it's like to NOT be on a horse as bouncy as Derby; posting the trot required a little more thought than on Derby, but sitting the trot wasn't the agonizing experience Derby makes it into. I gather also the person who mostly rides Roman these days rides him with spurs, so he's even more stubborn than usual for others.
I did get him to do all the stuff I wanted, and I did manage to get him to canter -- without using a dressage whip or having him buck, which was a first for me -- and in the end it all worked well. My classmate had a more productive ride on Derby than she would've on Roman -- though found cantering him difficult, since Derby tends to go 'OKAY LET'S RUN NOW WHEE!' and not want to stop of his own accord unless you try to do very small circles -- and apparently has a new appreciation for what I mean when I say Derby is a bouncy ride. ;)
The main thing I noticed was that Derby, who is so bouncy, has forced me to really focus on my balance and position while riding him. As a result, getting on Roman, I was able to control him better and give more forceful cues, as I had a better and more commanding posture. It's something I don't know that I'd really have realized had changed in my posture, without having switched to a different horse than my usual.
Even still, he took a lot of work. I was pretty exhausted by the time I got down to give Roman back to Val and take Derby for stretches! (I do a neck-stretching exercise with Derby before I put him away, always.) But despite all of his brattiness during the lesson and everything, Roman was his affectionate old self when I dismounted. He nuzzled my ear and chewed on my hair, drooped his head over my shoulder, and leaned against me just like the old days.
It was nice.