Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Pie Mystery

Pie and I have struggled with tracking right at trot in the arena.  He tends to want to bend to the outside and fall to the inside around the corners.  This tracking-right issue is a long standing problem, and although I've been able to make adjustments to my riding that have helped - keeping my right hip open, keeping my right leg at the girth rather than too far back, making sure I don't inadvertently use left leg, and keeping my eyes up and posture open - it's a constant struggle, almost every time we ride.

And none of my other horses have any problems tracking right.  Dawn used to, but the changes I've made in how I ride have eliminated that issue.

So, even though I almost always know that if something's not right, it's me that's the problem, this time I thought the issue might be with Pie.  To be clear, I'm not blaming him and he's certainly trying his best to do what I ask.  I thought there might be something physical going on.

Those of you who've been reading along for a while may remember that Pie's had EPM - twice (two different infections with two different phenotypes) - as well as Lyme.  He's been treated for all of those things, and each time made a complete recovery, as evidenced by soundness and also blood tests.  But sometimes there are lingering neurological effects, which in Pie's case, if they exist, are very slight - he's very sound and willing to work.

When he had his chiro treatment last week, our vet/chiro remarked that his right hind was slightly less muscled that the left hind, and that the right hind might be just a touch weaker as a result.  That got me thinking.

So today just for fun I tried something completely different, to see what would happen, and if the issue was related to the right hind.  When I'm posting on the correct diagonal, I'm rising and falling with the left front/right hind pair.  This weights this pair of feet slightly more and is supposed to help the horse balance around a turn.  But what if, due to a slight weakness in the right hind, weighing that diagonal was actually slightly impairing Pie's balance, causing him to try to rebalance by falling in?

Easy way to test that - so I posted on the wrong diagonal, rising and falling with the right front/left hind pair as we tracked right.

All of a sudden, things were fine tracking right - no falling in and he seemed much happier.  Hmmm . . .  We'll experiment some more, and see where we get to.

11 comments:

  1. My horse has (seemingly) the same problem. I found out it was a physical problem - both near shoulder and hind end were out. Meaning it was ouchy to track right.
    This may not be the same for your Pie, but i hope you find an answer! 😊

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  2. My horse has (seemingly) the same problem. I found out it was a physical problem - both near shoulder and hind end were out. Meaning it was ouchy to track right.
    This may not be the same for your Pie, but i hope you find an answer! 😊

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  3. Jess - thanks for your comment. In Pie's case, I think it may be a slight unevenness of strength on one leg diagonal pair as opposed to the other - he's not seemed at all sore and in fact just had his chiro. Hope your horse is doing well.

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  4. Very interesting and profound of you for having thought of an alternative way to ride him. I never would have thought of it. Is it considered "incorrect" to post on this opposite set of diagonals?

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    1. In the English riding world, where posting is more common, rising/falling with outside shoulder is considered "correct" - it's supposed to help the horse balance around turns and most horses seem more comfortable with that. And if you're showing, it's mandatory if you're posting - the "correct" diagonal. I know some Western riders post, and I certainly do most of the time to give my horses' and my back a break. I'd think things would be the same there (although I don't think anyone ever posts the trot when showing Western) about diagonals.

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  5. Interesting! Maybe some of that done consistently will help him to build muscle tone in the right hind?

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    1. Don't know but it seems an interesting possibility.

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  6. Great thinking! I have always been taught to post on both diagonals somewhat equally going right and left to keep things balanced overall. So glad this might be working for Pie!

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  7. Posting on the "wrong" diagonal can help build up his muscles by making that leg work more.

    Another exercise might be riding with a reverse bend when you go on the right. Keep your inside leg on to keep him from falling in on his hindquarters so he has to keep that leg "loaded" and under his body instead of falling in with his hind end.

    Spiraling in and out on a circle, paying attention to where his hind end is so that leg works to carry his weight is another muscle building exercise.

    And, if you have some hills outside, trotting up them will help too. Eventually, you can walk up. My vet actually wanted me to trot both up and down, but I'm not too keen on the down, so I kind of jogged instead.

    Whatever you do, try to keep him straight with his hindquarters in line with his shoulder. Swinging his quarters in or out ar both ways of evading the load. I'm suspecting that when he falls in on the shoulder his right hind is tracking to the outside under his body instead of working straight under him, so he tends to be a bit three track.

    You've already focused on yourself, so that's good. I suspect he tries to carry you on his stronger side so riding yourself straight is an important part of the equation.

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    1. Jean - thanks for your very helpful comments.

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  8. Comment on the posting...by rising when the outside shoulder is forward, the rider is out of the saddle as the inside hind is pushing off. This supposedly takes some of the weight off the inside hind--the leg that is supporting more of the horse's own weight on the turn. Changing the post "loads" the inside hind and makes it work more. That's the theory.

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