Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Transitions

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. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time for Mud

Louie has had a pretty easy schedule lately- go outside and play in the mud (and get caked in mud head to toe so I have to spend 30 minutes just removing the mud each day before we can do anything- silly horsie) and work a couple of times per week.  It is spring field trial season, which means Louie has an easy, though somewhat lonely life for the next month or so, and his brothers Cash and Jackson are working really hard.  I somehow don't think Louie minds.  He was pretty lucky to have a barn buddy to take him out to eat some green grass last week while I was gone. 

On the lunge line, he looks a little bit off still, but not too bad, and nothing that is stopping me from working him.  We had a nice ride yesterday, including walk, trot, and canter both ways.  Much to my surprise, he took both canter leads correctly from the walk, and didn't get fussy/antsy over it.  He's doing great with his shoulder in and haunches in, though we need to work on keeping the neck just a tad straighter in our shoulder in movements as we do have the tendency to bend a little too much at the base of the neck.  Overall though, with the exception of conditioning, we're just about picking up where we left off.