Friday, April 29, 2011

Relaxation

Pie and I had a nice solo birthday trail ride - it was a lovely day (for a change) - in the 50sF with some sun and not too much wind.  We went further than he'd gone before by himself, and he was nervous at points, but well-behaved.  Good birthday Pie!

After I turned Pie back out, I brought Drifter in - he was nervous without any other horses around.  I free-lunged for just a moment, and then he was OK and I was able to ground tie, groom and tack up.  At some point, Charisma came into the ring to be ground tied and groomed - he was very interested in her but well-behaved.  We did a lot of work at the walk.  He started out bracing again, but we worked on it for a while and got some decent softening.  But it was softening without being soft, if that makes any sense - for true softening to exist, the horse has to be relaxed and he wasn't relaxed.  I'd like him to stretch down and out for the contact rather than carrying his head and neck so high and "perfect" - his face is vertical and he's not pushing on the bit but he's nervous and carrying a lot of tension.  There's no point in doing trot work until we get this issue cracked - the faster pace will just increase the tension.  After we worked for a while, I got him working on an almost loose rein and he began to relax a bit.  He doesn't neck rein, so steering was a bit iffy on a loose rein, but I think he's able to steer just off my legs and eyes.  After than, we went back to the softening work again, and there was a bit more relaxation and reaching down.

Then Charisma left the ring - screaming by Drifter and a loss of concentration - but we kept working for quite a while and he was able to get back with me and we got some nice moments of almost relaxation, including some nice walk/halt transitions.  We stopped there - good Drifter!

Then I took Dawn out for a spin in the sidepull.  She's not as soft in the sidepull as she is in the bit, but we managed some decent walk and trot work, including transitions.  Relaxation has been a big challenge for her as well but she'll now stretch down, all the way to the ground, at both the walk and trot.  Her trot today was very forward and engaged, but still mostly pretty relaxed.  She's come a long way - her normal level of tension is much reduced.

I had a nice conversation with our chiropractor/vet about Drifter's possible hormonal issues - she's an endocrine specialist.  She says if he doesn't show overt sexual behavior around mares (which he doesn't - he's just extra friendly and attentive - lots of nickering and noticing mares), he's unlikely to be a rig, or cryptorchid, and that doing the (expensive) testosterone testing is likely to be a waste of time.  It's more possible that he's a bit over active in the adrenal department (some geldings are this way), which can mimic the effects of testosterone.  This could also explain his nervousness.  She'll take a look at him when she's here next Wednesday - she does the sedation for our dentist Mike Fragale - and there may be some supplements that will help him out.  I didn't think he was a crypt - he's not mouthy at all and is actually pretty sweet with people once you establish boundaries.

13 comments:

  1. Glad things worked out. I'm not familiar with the term "crypt."

    Dan

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  2. Happy Birthday to Pie and what a great day you had working with the horses!

    I like your description of Drifter's softness. It will be interesting to see what the vet thinks, especially since she is an endocrine specialist.

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  3. Sounds like a great ride to celebrate Pie's birthday :)

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  4. Dan - cryptorchid - as in a testicle retained up in the body cavity that was not removed during castration - pretty uncommon.

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  5. Your work with three horses is very impressive - that's a lot of energy! Sounds like they're all coming along well. I can really see an improvement over time of your descriptions of Dawn, who sounds challenging but fun.

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  6. Carol - You're right - Dawn has been a real challenge for me - it's nice to see her picking right up where we left off last fall. I seem to have a much better feel for her now, and a lot more confidence in her. She is a challenging horse - she's extremely sensitive and very, very forward and has had issues with concentration/attention and relaxation in the past - she's come a long way for me (or I've come a long way for her - it's both I think).

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  7. Happy Birthday Pie!!! What a sweet boy he is and I am so glad he is living with you. You see his intelligence and appreciate him. How great you had such a nice ride.

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  8. My friend who had a crypt had a real problem with his behavior...downright dangerous...so I am less likely to suspect that's Drifter's issue. If not, then supplements should certainly help.

    I always wonder too, if how a horse was weaned and what his relationship with "mom" and the rest of the herd was might make a huge difference as well. Could be some bonding issues going on.

    Regardless, I am sure you will get to the bottom of it all.

    Once again, Good Pie. And Dawn is doing well too. I will be interested, however, to hear how her mouth injury is evaluated.

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  9. I like to hear how Drifter's coming along - in terms of challenge he seems between Dawn and Pie.

    What do you envision him doing as your work with him continues?

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  10. Breathe - I think you're right about Drifter - Dawn was a bit of tough nut to work with at first, but she's really settled in and seems to be able to concentrate - much more than when I started working with her. I've started taking her on (very short) trail excursions - 50 yards or so - and we'll see how she does.

    With Drifter, relaxation has to start happening before we'll be able to get much further, although that's even improved - he's able to stand still under saddle and even seems to appreciate it, and his attention span is better. I'm hoping to take him on the trail some day, but he'll also be a really fine arena horse - I'm thinking dressage - as he's built for it and is very athletic and has a huge amount of forward built in. Don't know for sure yet.

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  11. Do you think Drifter could have been Proud Cut?
    It'll be interesting to see what the Endocrine testing tells you.

    Wow. Working with 3 horses on your birthday. Did you get to celebrate in other ways, besides horse work too? Happy Birthday!

    As far as Dawn, I wonder if your extra time spent with Pie and dealing with Drifter has been beneficial in helping Dawn work through her issues, as well as the confidence you've built, which can also help with Dawn's confidence, too?

    ~Lisa

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  12. Calm, forward, and soft- sounds like what I need to do with Gussie. She gives me soft like Drifter does- up and tense in the neck but light on the bridle. Thanks for the reminder that soft also equals relaxed.

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  13. So crypts tend to be mouthy? I hadn't heard that. I also was interested to hear the adrenal theory. Panama also shows a lot of interest in mares, and (obviously, from recent events) can be pretty nervous or anxious at times.

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