Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Peeling the Onion, Continued . . .

Got a series of texts from Heather (Red's trainer up in Wisconsin) - she's great about updating me about their doings.  The past two rides they've been doing a lot of work on transitions from trot to canter.  Apparently one day, he decided he could only do left lead canter, and kept offering that, and the next day all he wanted to offer was right lead canter!  He's an interesting horse - every time we move on to a new level of demands - new gait, new things he has to cope with - he becomes anxious and braces and anticipates - he worries about what you're asking and feels he has to brace due to his anxiety, which means he checks out and stops listening.  Each time, we get through it, and this canter work represents the next level of peeling the onion.  She worked through it with him on both leads and things should now be better.  While she was working with him on one of the days, Midnight's owner took him for a walk.  Now, this happens almost every day at lunchtime - Midnight is an elderly horse, and his dedicated owner comes out almost every day to groom him and take him for a walk through the surrounding trees.  Red has seen Midnight come and go for months now. But when you're braced, and anxious and distracted, Midnight can be a killer - Heather said she had one spook-and-bolt, stopped him and went right back to work.  It wasn't a problem, just a challenge presented by Red's physical and mental bracing.

Every layer we get through is another layer dealt with . . . Red's depo provera has been ordered and should be here soon.  I'm going to get our very good vet/chiropractor Dr. Marold to go up there and give him his shot when it comes, and also do some chiro work on him if he needs it - he's been working hard.  The shot, in addition to making him less inclined to be "studly" with other horses, should also dampen down his reactivity/distractability around other horses - this tends to go with the studiness - and made it a bit easier for him right now.

Dr. Marold had a good visit with Pie today.  His EPM symptoms are almost gone (he's at about day 15 of treatment for his second bout), although occasionally he'll still take a bad step with his left hind - he just needs to build some strength back.  His back needed some fixing, but his neck really needed work - he had a lot of cramps.  By the end, he was yawning, stretching and shaking his head out - he really appreciated what she did.  His walking down and up hill is much improved, and he now rides very well with a big, swinging, sound walk and trot.  We're slowly building up our trot time, but still avoiding trotting downhill or tight turns for now.  He's schduled for a trim on Thursday, and I noticed that his front feet are no longer wearing more at the outside front edges - the wear is now even around the foot, which means he's loose in the shoulders and using himself better.

Before Pie's session, I rode Dawn.  She's doing very, very well.  Her EPM symptoms are completely gone.  We're doing lots of trot work and beginning to build in canter.  Her idea of canter is "gallop as fast as you can", so this presents its challenges.  She's a very forward horse at the best of times anyway.  I'm trying to show her that she can canter in a soft relaxed manner.  We're making good progress - in her good direction - the left lead - I was able to get three soft steps of canter, followed by a fairly big release where she could keep cantering on a looser rein for some steps, followed by three more soft steps, and also some decently soft downwards transitions.  Right lead is still quite a bit harder and more braced, but we did get some soft steps - it's a very good beginning.

2 comments:

  1. A lot of times at the canter, it's a matter of balance. Since the gait is lateral, the horse feels as if it's falling down with each stride and so wants to hurry to get its legs under it before it goes down. So taking it a little at a time as you are is a really good idea.

    As for Red, once again, you are so lucky with your trainer. What a great experience he is having---even with the Midnight Terror! *G*

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  2. I love this analogy of peeling the onion.

    Very fascinating how Red decided on just one lead one day and only the other lead the next day. There is something about this that makes me feel that he's really thinking about his lessons from one day to the next and trying to work out the right answer.

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