Not too much riding today. Wednesdays are usually my main music day - I have to drive about an hour, have my lesson, and then play with a group for another hour and a half, and then drive home. So the boys get a day off on those days - just a quick check over and hoof picking. But Dawn gets her usual early morning ride on Wednesdays, and then gets Thursday off.
When checking Dawn over yesterday evening, I discovered she had a fairly sizable hematoma between her front legs but more to the right, and no other sign of injury - no cuts or other swellings on her chest or shoulder. She's been wearing her rain sheet the past few days, and she may have gotten kicked with the sheet preventing her from having a more obvious wound. The hematoma wasn't hot and not at all sore, so I gave her a gram of bute and left it at that. She's been completely sound, and we rode this morning and she was still just fine and had no problem working, so we worked.
My post yesterday about opening the door talked more about what I do with my lower body - hip and leg, and what I don't do. This morning as I was riding Dawn, we were thinking together about what I do with my upper body. Of course, in corners and when bending for circles, etc., I have to keep my eyes and upper body open and be looking where I want us to go. But what about that inside arm - what's it up to?
All my horses have always had more difficulty bending to the right, which translates into less softness and poorer quality of gaits when tracking right. This is entirely due to me and how I ride - there's nothing wrong with the horses. Yesterday I talked about slightly opening my inside hip - this is harder for me when it's my right hip, but it's becoming more automatic now that I'm thinking about it. And my horses tell me if I'm not doing it - the quality of the right bend goes away if I slip up.
But my upper body has also always been problematic when tracking right, and it's mostly a problem with my arm. I tend to drop my right shoulder, rotate my elbow out from my body and move my right hand to the outside, sometimes to the point of placing it behind the withers. This effectively blocks my horses from having a proper right bend, and if they manage it anyway it's not due to me.
Here's what I need to do instead - Dawn's teaching me the correct way. I need to keep my right shoulder up and open it slightly to the inside - just like my hip - keep my elbow close to my side and a straight line between my hand, elbow and the bit - if I raise my hands slightly this helps. If I do this - voila! problem fixed - lovely right bend, with the inside hind stepping under.
Dawn says I'm always a work in process, but at least I try, so she's willing to keep me on as a student . . .