Alex is starting "Boot Camp." Although I'm ecstatic that he's feeling and moving about 100% better since the introduction of the new saddle, he's been a little too "frisky/ADD" for my liking. So I've decided that he's going to be lunged before every ride for the next few weeks. By that time we'll be back in a consistent groove and hopefully he will start to get with the routine again :-)
Since the saddle is getting shipped off for repairs on Thursday, he'll get a lot more lunging time during the first week, but I think it will be a great opportunity to continue his muscle stretching/building. He's still showing me that the canter is a bit of a struggle both mentally (due his memories of previous back issues) and physically (due to his greenness and need for more muscle) and this will be time for us to work those muscles without the burden of me in the saddle.
I've also been reading (at the suggestion of my mom) Training the Young Horse: The First Two Years
This was apparently one of her "go-to" books for training young horses, and something she used to pull out and re-read every time she started a young horse. It has some good practical insights which I am enjoying and I'm looking forward to additional pointers/explanations of how to build a really solid flat work foundation for Alex.
Tonight the lunging and then riding went pretty well. Alex was still overly concerned about the geese in the paddock next to us (even though he sees them ALL the time) and getting him completely "through" at the canter is still interesting, but he put in a pretty workman like performance and I can't pick on him too much :-)
More lunging and another ride tomorrow.