Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vacation Is Over

So the ponies got a bit of a vacation, as did least from doing anything but throwing hay and filling water.

I think we all need that once in a while.

I've had a lot of stuff rolling through my head these past few months and a little down-time has given me time to assess, absorb and re-calculate.

I could say that I felt rather dumb for having to have other people re-tell me things I already know...but I'm over all that. Mulling on mistakes doesn't leave much room to think about how to make it right.

Life with horses is what it is. Every step is a journey and sometimes you end up at a dead-end.

But reverse works rather well and if I have to back all the way up to the starting be it.

I'm back to groundwork.

After Moon made his charge through the electric fence, I almost brought him up and left Beretta out (nobody else thinks it worth charging through electricity to bother her)...but he was still very sore through his loin and I decided that right then HE was the one who needed room to roam the most. It took about a week for him to lose all of that soreness and start traveling normal again. I left him alone for another week just for good measure.

In the meantime, I decided it was as good a time as any to start working with Miss Beretta. We started formal longing lessons, worked on bend/give, move off of pressure and I started playing around with little exercises to teach her how to step up and drive off of her inside hind leg.

Interestingly enough, just messing around with her, I started to work some things out in my mind, so I have been carrying over what I started doing with Beretta to the other horses. I kept thinking that all of this seemed very familiar and one day it dawned on me that this was all stuff I worked with Moon on years ago when I started bringing him back after he pulled his stifle muscles.

Most of it is exercises that Mrs Mom gave me.

Working in-hand gives me an opportunity to see how a horse carries himself, where their feet fall and any stiffness/lack of suppleness.

Since I don't have anyone around on a daily basis to spot for me, I wanted to get a feel for exactly where everyone was..cause boy, oh boy...does that carry over when you are riding.

This is what I have found;

Beretta-Is very supple to the right. She has no problem relaxing and stretching through her neck. Subsequently she can really reach up underneath herself with her right hind foot and is using her whole back. Little sister can walk on! Her transition up to a trot and back down to a walk are smooth. Going to the left it's like watching a different horse. She is much bracier in the neck, stiff in her left shoulder and her transitions are erratic. Her left circles involve a lot of flat and bulging spots.

Jet-Is erratic and overreactive. He's supple bodied on both sides, but has a tendency to react with his body and forgets about his feet.

Bugs-Is stiff bodied and clunky moving. But he is a tubby little turd, so that's pretty much what I expected. He also has a tendency to overreact at the walk and downward transition and wants to whip around and face up. His transitions up are nice and smooth and he will just trot forever in relaxed frame, but because he is so chubby and stiff he lacks bend.

Frosty-Is stiff and bracy through the neck. He doesn't lift his shoulders at all, which leads to short strides with his front legs. Because he strides so deep behind, he keeps pushing himself into a jog. It's really interesting to watch him because now that I realize what I'm looking at I understand why he rides the way he does.

Moon-Is stiff bodied, lacks impulsion from behind and does the same thing with his shoulder that he does when I am riding him. Going to the left, he over-bends and pushes his shoulder out. To the right, he is stiff in the shoulder and keeps fading into the circle. I also notice he is dragging his left hind toe occasionally. That is the side he jammed his back and was so sore on. I can't help but still think that there might be something physical going on, but I also remembered that when I started bringing Moon back after he pulled his stifle muscles (years ago) that he had the same tendencies. (Thank goodness for the blog so I could go back and read up on all that.)

What I'm going through with Moon is similar to what In2Paints is going through with her mare. I've always said that Moon was built just a hair off of being ideal in the back legs. He's got a high hock and is a bit straight. This is not an uncommon conformation characteristic to see in barrel horses as it lends itself to speed. The downside is, one or two degrees to much and you have a horse that is prone to letting his hind legs get too far behind them which leads to back, stifle and hock issues, particularly when they are lazy like Moon is.

LMAO...I knew all of this, particularly about Moon, but I got so wrapped up in his injury that I got tunnel vision and stopped doing all of the stuff I normally did to strengthen his stifle and make him use his whole back.

It has been really interesting to watch how the other horses move around the line and see how they use their entire topline (even if it is sporatic/erratic)...Moon and Frosty do not do that, so it was definitely a training issue.

Whewww! I finally feel like I am back in my element again and have very specific goals to work on with each horse.

Something Bub told me really resonated with me. I made the comment that maybe I should just stick to training because I couldn't seem to figure out how to compete very well. I always feel like I am starting over. He just laughed and told me, 'You gotta start from the beginning every. single. day.' At the time, I understood what he was saying, but until I started over again, I didn't really get it. But more on that another time.


Leah Fry said...

'You gotta start from the beginning every. single. day.' — Sounds like sage advice to me. After all, you never know where you horse is gonna be that day — up for work, up for a fight, not quite there with you, a little off, or right on the money.

in2paints said...

I constantly feel like I'm starting over too! It can be quite discouraging... starting from the beginning every single day sounds like good advice, but I always worry about the fitness level of my horse. I'm glad you're making progress and can work on specific goals, though. That's always helpful.

fernvalley01 said...

Good advise it seems. A different perspective , and a change in your goals to it seems has made a huge difference . Looking forward to the progress

Shirley said...

Interesting that you can see on the ground the problems you feel in the saddle.
Going back to ground work is a great way to sort things out.

kestrel said...

I love groundwork, it gives the horse a chance to muscle up to do their job, and they can't blame the human for the soreness, so it's win win.

Funder said...

Really interesting post. I always learn so much from you!

Prairie Ridge Performance Horses said...

going back to the basics, is something I was always soon as something is not going right, start over again, and usually YOU are the one that is taught, by the horse, to figure out what is wrong with the picture!!

Crystal said...

Sounds intersting. Horses sure keep us humble, as soon as we think we know what we are doing they teach us something else.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Strong understanding of the basics are what I feel got us the ribbon in the reinsmanship class.

Going back to square 1 and starting all over is never a bad thing. Usually when you hit the point where you strayed before, it becomes crystal clear and really obvious, what, where and how it all went wrong from there. That's when you can start to fix it and rebuild. This time it will be bigger and better because you won't be making the same mistakes all over again. Wahoo! You go girl!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

Man CNJ-You hit the nail on the head.

I know exactly where and why I messed up with Moon, so it's back to the basics to get him physically fit again and then I know we'll quickly go right back to where we were before I started focusing on the the wrong things.

Frosty, is a bit of a weird deal. First time I've not been able to get a horse to lengthen out with just good old fashioned 'ranch' riding...but there is always a first for everything.

Everybody else around here never got past the basics to begin with...

Well, except for Spooks, but since I was just having fun with him, I just let him do his thing and didn't give myself a brain cramp. LOL

Cut-N-Jump said...

BEC's- Sounds like we are both in just about the same damn spot in our progress. LOL!

Both of us are having those A-HA moments where it all makes sense. We look back, figure out what, where and how we screwed up and have to go back and fix it so we can move on from there.

Kinda sucks when we realize- I have been the one standing in my own damn way on this.

Hahaha :P

Equine Chiropractic said...

Really nice post.
It makes me charge.
Thanks for Sharing.