We've been having fun rides the past few days. We've been working a lot on transitions. We're working on halt-trot, trot-halt, walk-canter, halt-canter, canter-walk, canter-halt, and of course transitions within gaits. We've got 3 decently separate speeds of canter, slow, normal, and extended/hand gallop. I think it's nice to mix in a little variety in speeds within each gait to keep Louie responsive. The transitions also help to build balance, strength, and coordination. I'm very surprised by how easily he has taken to the halt-canter transitions, he's taking them right from the walk, NO trotting strides in between! I'm amazed. And he's only missed his leads a few times when cantering straight down the middle of the arena, he has been pretty much rock solid when on the rail. We just need to work on figuring out which lead I'm asking for when there isn't a rail to guide him. But first things first. . .
He's been feeling pretty decent. Tonight Bjorn came out to watch our ride. He noted what I have felt the past few rides- Louie feels stiff at first, but loosens up as he warms up. He is just a tiny bit off and head-bobby at first as well, but not bad.
What I have noticed is that he is incredibly tight/resistant to bending to the left. Our circles to the left are collapsed, asymmetric, and I feel like the saddle is sitting at an angle. Our circles to the right are pretty decent. I think it might be time for some chiropractic adjustment.
Bjorn noted tonight that Louie had less arch to his neck, less break over the top of the neck, and held his neck more straight and higher, nose less tucked. I think that is in part a function of being stiff and a little sore, partially deconditioning/lack of suppling, and partially a product of building contact with the bridle- he's not sucking back behind the vertical nearly as much as he was before, which is actually a good thing. The rest of the reasons, well, they need some work. I'd like to have a chiropractor out in the next few weeks to adjust him to see if that helps our circling, and he'll be due for his next re-set for his shoes in the first week of June. I'm hoping that will help his soundness, if not, we may be going back to see Dr. Turner again.
Overall, he's doing pretty decent. I'm happy to have a mostly sound riding horse again and we're doing really well on our transitions and gaining some conditioning, if nothing else.