Saturday, April 07, 2007


My feet were cold when I rode Kaswyn Thursday. This is because I was wearing my leather boots instead of my thick, warm, insulated boots. Why? Because just last week (when it was 70+ degrees here) I put all my winter boots away. And I refuse to get them out again.

These pictures of our beautiful green pastures were taken at the barn three days ago -

Then this happened -

This is the current view out of our back door. And yes, that is snow falling. In APRIL.

Anyway, it was around 35 degrees in the arena when I rode Kaswyn, so my leather boots afforded little protection against the cold. However, those boots give me a much better feel when I ride, and right now that's very important.

Thursday when we starting working I was trying to keep him in more of an upright frame and pushed up in front of my leg. My trainer suggested this on Tuesday, and it seemed to help. However, on Thursday he felt really uneven when I did this, so I decided to get my whip and spurs. Since I have started back to work with Kaswyn I haven't been riding with my whip or spurs. I wanted to be sure that I wasn't relying on my spurs or that I was jabbing him instead of using my leg properly. When we were in full training mode I used them every day as I would any aide - only when needed. But Thursday I really started to feel that Kaswyn was blowing off my leg and that I was working way too hard to keep him going. He was better with the whip and spurs, but he still felt uneven to me. Discouraged, I quit early. His leg looked great after the ride and wasn't hot.

Friday's ride started the same. I was about to quit when I decided to try something different. I let him get into a lower frame and let him go more slowly. I made sure that he wasn't on his forehand, but I wasn't pushing him into a really large working trot that he used to be able to do. I just let him do a hacking-type of trot at his own pace, but I made him carry himself and didn't hold him up.

Lo and behold, he was even. No head bobbing - no short striding. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this, and here are my thoughts. He hasn't been in work for 16 months, so it's probably hard for him to hold that upright frame like he used to. When we started doing dressage, we started with a lower training level frame. Dr. B cautioned me that his whole body is now 16 years old and to not expect him to bounce back and do anything difficult. He said every ligament, tendon, and muscle is going to take time to get back up to speed so GO SLOW. Expecting him to return to the upright upper level frame and big trot (that took years to develop) after only a few rides was unfair. I think this, more than pain in his leg, made him uneven. Kaswyn has always had a tendency to get uneven since I bought him. Asking too much too soon bought the worst of that out.

So from now on, I think it's going to be low and slow. I'm not going to let him hang on my hands or drag his nose in the dirt, but I think it's back to the basics for us. If we have to start back with the training level stuff and work our way back up just for the physical benefits, then so be it. Kaswyn knows all the upper level stuff in his brain. We just have to re-teach his body how to do it and not get hurt.

But I'm still not riding in my insulated boots until next winter, cold feet or not.

1 comment:

Rising Rainbow said...

Sounds like you are on the right track. I didn't realize he had had that much time off. It will definitely take some time to build him back up.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr