When I got out ot the barn today and started grooming Kaswyn, I saw the gal who works at the barn and I asked her if he did well with turnout that morning. She shook her head and said that he was only out long enough for her to clean his stall because all he did was run and scream. He was alone in his paddock but was next to another horse. I was afraid of that. I spoke with my trainer and she said she would put him in a different paddock tomorrow, and that she hoped that he'd settle down by then. I've been through this before with him so I have my doubts. He's just a bit of an ass if there is not another horse in the paddock with him. If he doesn't settle down they'll try him with another horse and see if it's any better.
I tacked up and went to the arena. I realized as soon as I started out that for the past two years or so I've been riding my horse like he was hurt, and for part of the time that's been true. I've been very easy on him and not insisting that he make a good connection, or that he comes through to the degree that he needs to. My fear that I'll hurt him or make his injury worse has resulted in my riding being wimpy and ineffective, and his resulting work is sub par. Since it appears that he's all healed up, it's time to stop riding him like he's made out of glass.
That doesn't mean that I'm going to suddenly be brutal and hard on him. What I'm going to do is just return to the kind of riding that I used to do. I need to insist that he makes a good connection with the bit and my hand. He must always come through his back, and I must be able to work through any resistance to maximize his energy into quality gaits.
This was the overall theme of my ride today. I decided that I'd run through all the exercises we did yeaterday in the lesson, but I'd just do short workouts of them. I didn't want to ride him for more than twenty minutes after a hard workout the day before. The plan was to get him working in a comperable frame, connection, and rhythm, using the exercises to get us there.
Amazingly, once I started riding like I used to, it all came easy! I had forgotten to mention that we did serpentines yesterday to work on maintining the rhythm with the changes in bend, and when we tried that today it went very well. The canter exercise was the most eye opening, because it was so obvious that as soon as I changed the counter flexion to true flexion I could feel him come through his back under my outside seatbone.
It's so wonderful to feel like we made such progress in such a short amount of time. We still have five days and two lessons left. I'm anticipating more progress every day!
The Harmany Muzzle
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