Kaswyn and I have been working really hard with the things that the biomechanical/massotherapy horse lady has been helping me with. She's not telling me anything that I shouldn't already know, but I'll admit that I'm not as good as I should be about being able to recognize when a horse is crooked or not. I can tell of they are totally whacked out in one direction or other, but I miss the subtle things.
I know it's just a matter of practicing and getting used to evaluating the straightness of a horse. I really blew off that part of my dressage training, and now it shows. I'm getting better at being able to feel and see it on other horses, but with Kaswyn it's almost impossible for me to tell.
Here is the thing - I've been riding this horse for 16 years. He's always been crooked to some degree. So that feels okay to me. Sure he's had periods of being straighter than others, but I think in general I was always very bad at getting, and keeping him, straight.
Also he's very sneaky about being able to be on the bit but not using his back at all. Massotherapy Lady called me on that BIG TIME. So right now our two main areas of focus are - get him to move his shoulders left and haunches right in order to straighten him out, and get him to use his back all the time without cheating.
That's the hard part. She wants him to be using his back and abdominals with every step. I'm not always good about catching it when he drops out from under me a little bit, so I'm not sure if I'm doing it right all the time. She wants me up off of his back, like you would a very young horse, to allow him to bring his back up. It's really hard for me NOT to sit down on him and drive him with my seat!
I think we are making progress, but it's so hard to tell. I'm trying really, really hard, and I actually think his back is looking better - less swayed and more muscled and filled in. He certainly is happy about being ridden, so that is a plus. When I have someone there to watch me they say that when I get him straight (no small feat there) that he looks sound and even. It's really hard for me to tell how he feels, since the way I'm riding him is such a huge departure from what I'm used to. I don't have my seat to give me information, because I'm posting and I'm forward almost in a two-point position. So I'll get tips like "Haunches more towards the wall" or "Shoulders more to the left" and I'll do that, and they say "Now that's better" but I can't FEEL it. And that is frustrating. I mean, I thought I knew how to ride? Argh!
On a more positive note, his left front pastern is not as sensitive as it once was, but he still objects when I rub it with the lavender oil. I think that if I keep massaging the area that it will break up some of those adhesions and maybe make it less sensitive.
The good thing is I use the lavender oil after my ride, and it have a very pleasant scent. So if I have a frustrating ride at least I come out of it in the end smelling nice.