Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A week in review

Wow, so busy, no time to write!

Okay so let me get caught up. The saddle lady came out and thankfully said that Kaswyn's saddle fits him fine still and that it doesn't need any adjusting. Yay! Then she looked at Albert's saddle and said it does not fit him anymore. The saddle Susan bought him in 2003 was made specially to be an extra-wide size, but now he is bigger than that. There isn't any way to make it wider, so he needs a new saddle. We tried Kaswyn's saddle on him and it fit, so the saddle lady suggested I ride Albert in Kaswyn's saddle. I was hesitant about it because I was told that if I ride another horse in Kaswyn's saddle that it might change and not fit him properly, but she said that it would be okay for a short term thing.

Susan wants a saddle like mine anyway but right before Nationals is not the time to be spending money on a new one. Luckily I was able to locate one in our area on Craigslist, and we tried it out. It fits Albert and I was able to take a lesson yesterday in the saddle. It is certainly different from his old saddle and will take a little getting used to, but it's more comfortable and I'm sure he likes it better. The lesson was great but it about killed me - more on that in a minute. Anyhow Susan will ride in the saddle and make sure she likes it too, and then decide how she's going to pay for it.

Then the saddle lady looked at Skyy's saddle. Sadly his saddle doesn't fit him anymore either. The saddle he has is a County dressage saddle, and the saddle lady said that it would be better to have a County representative adjust the saddle (if that's even possible). If the saddle has a warranty then the only people who can adjust them are County reps or it could void the warranty. However Albert's saddle fit Skyy very nicely.

Skyy's owner is having the County lady come out on Thursday and take a look a the saddle. I don't know what the plan will be if she can't adjust it. Susan has to sell her old saddle and I'm pretty sure that Skyy's owner doesn't want to buy it. I can probably use Albert's saddle on Skyy until the saddle is sold, but if it sells quickly then we're kind of in trouble.

After the saddle lady left, Dr. C came out to check Kaswyn one more time and give him his last mesotherapy treatment. However after the initial exam, watching me ride him, and the second exam were over Dr. C decided that Kaswyn didn't need another treatment. He was very happy with the way Kaswyn had responded to the treatment, and said "I never would have thought that he would be this good after how bad he was on that first day." He had no soreness or tightness in his back after I rode, and his neck wasn't sore at all. I've been stretching his neck with every ride, so I guess that helps.

We also talked about Kaswyn's stride, because I've noticed that Kaswyn is just a bit slower with his left hind leg about 40% of the time. It's hardly noticeable but I've been scrutinizing his videos and watching him on the lunge line at the trot and you can see he puts the left hind foot down just a fraction of a second later than the right front hits the ground. I mentioned it to Dr. C while I was on Kaswyn and he agreed, but said that it went away when I pushed Kaswyn a little bit. His conclusion, since Kaswyn was totally sound that day, was the Kaswyn just moves that way and probably always has. He does not think it's related to his back, stifle, hips, or pastern. It's not enough that a judge would notice it, and it's not a lameness, just a minute unevenness. It might be improved if I make it a point to keep that left hind active and prevent it from being slow. At this point since I'm building him back up I might be able to build both sides evenly and minimize the unevenness.

He also pointed out that Kaswyn tends to drag his toes when he trots, which makes him appear more uneven if he goes through changes in footing. When it gets deeper or he trots over a high spot he can catch his toes in the sand and that makes the stride change. So it's possible that at a show with more even footing this will be much less on an issue than it is at our barn.

Anyway, I'm very happy about how Kaswyn feels right now. I'm going to take my time and build him back up slowly, three or four days a week, with gradual increases in time and difficulty of work. Hopefully if I do this right we can get back on track. I fee like this is finally the end of a very long road filled with lameness, treatments that don't work, and unanswered questions. And big vet bills.

Yesterday I had a lesson with Albert at my trainer's. The plan is, for the next five weeks until Nationals, to take a lesson a week on each horse at my trainer's barn because she has the full sized arena. I will take Albert on Tuesdays and Kaswyn and Skyy on Thursdays. As long as I'm going over there with Skyy, and I will have Skyy's owner to help me, I might as well take Kaswyn too and take advantage of the good footing. And of course get more coaching. Yesterday my trainer really got on me for my right side. I'm hiking my right shoulder up and getting myself all twisted which is affecting how the horses go. When I don't get regular lessons I fall into terrible habits, so have have five weeks to shape up!

Albert is going very well. He is a little crooked when going to the right. He brings his hips right and bulges his shoulder left. It's mostly noticeable at the canter, so we did an exercise where we canter a 20 meter circle and counterflex on the open end of the circle. This will help me bring his shoulders more to the right and make it easier to align the hips. We also worked on getting the hind legs to push my doing a series of 10 meter trot circles on the long side and concentrating on rhythm keeping both hind legs active. Another trot exercise we did was 20 meter circle in the center of the arena, with a leg yield out on one side of the circle and a 10 meter circle in the opposite direction on the other side of the circle. This helps with more outside rein connection and also getting the horse to change bend smoothly.

I have more of this to look forward to in the next few weeks. The lessons are hard but I love having them. Although I thought I was going to have to stop and ask for a rest at one point. You would think that riding three horses has put me in shape for one lesson. I guess I still have lots of work to do.

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