I went to the barn this morning and Ashke greeted me with a whinny. In fact, every time I walked away and walked back to him, he whinnied. He eagerly stuffed his head in a halter and nuzzled me every time I was close to his mouth. I groomed and cleaned his feet, then saddled him up with the TSF saddle pad on top of my BOT pad. We walked outside and found a place to get on. He stood uneasily and then walked off with tiny mincing steps.
I had not been on him since October 25th. He was so excited and spooky and snorting at everything. I guided him around the edges of the fields surrounding the property and we rode for an hour, doing 4 miles. It could have been faster but the ground is still spongy from the weather a week ago. Ashke started out with mincing steps and then a very springy trot. About half way around he finally lowered his head and blew out. Several times. Relaxed. We finished the ride on a loose rein.
Three weeks. No work. No lunging. No issues.
As a side note, I'm going to have to try the TSF saddle pad without the BOT pad. The TSF slid back and was not sitting where it should have been. If I hadn't hooked it on to the saddle rings, we would have lost the pad.