. . . into the saddle. . .
Yup, you read that right. I rode Louie tonight, and the saddle did seem really high up after our short hiatus from riding. Tonight was the first time we did anything close to what I would call riding in 5 months. With the exception of one time a few weeks ago when I sat on him and walked around for a few minutes just to get him used to the idea that he is still a riding horse, we have been doing purely ground work for almost half a year! I wanted to give him some significant time off from riding so that he would have time to heal his back and legs and whatever else he had going on, and take some time to build up a good foundation with some lower-impact work in a nice controlled, long and low frame which I believe is the best thing for a horse with soreness in his back and hind legs. We have worked on core exercises to support his back and abs as much as possible, and worked a lot on a nice relaxed extended and free walk in long lines. We have worked on slowing down, speeding up, and extending the stride. Louie has changed immensely in size and shape since last winter/spring, filling out and broadening across his back and hind end, and wow is it noticeable from atop his back.
He really felt like a whole new horse tonight during our ride. Besides the fact that he was incredibly squirley and fresh, head flipping and trying to run and play, he was moving like a million bucks- and FAST! I was amazed at what a ground-covering stride he had developed and how seemingly effortlessly he floated around the arena as if he were a Standardbred trotter cruising around the track trying to finish first. But really, he did also settle down a little bit, we did some nice walking and leg yielding, bending and flexing and overall we had a fun ride!
At the end of the 20 minute ride Louie was biting at the girth on both sides, more on the right than the left. I figure this is most likely because the saddle pad did not entirely cover the flaps and it might have been rubbing on him and making him uncomfortable, but I'm not sure exactly that that's what was causing it. Easy enough to figure out though, next time I'll put a different pad on him and see how that goes.
Now I know I said that I didn't want to ride him again until I had him broke to drive, but I think I've come to a decision regarding that which in itself deserves a new blog entry. The basic principle of it is that I can't get consistent enough help to get him broke myself (it's definately a 2-person job) so I am planning on sending him off to an expert driving trainer this spring. More to come on that in the future. . .