I've had some ups and downs with Phil. Some nights he’s pretty good, and other nights he just can’t focus. I always have to stop and think “Is it something I’m doing?”, and sometimes it is. But most times it is not. I have to remind myself that he still is dealing with his other training issues, but sometimes I get frustrated.
Today was one of those “I can’t pay attention to where I’m putting my feet, much less what you’re asking me to do.” days. His reaction to any little noise that he thinks he hears is to come off the bit and speed up. Sometimes he just downright takes off. It’s annoying and impossible to get any good work done.
So today I decided to put him on a 12 meter circle, and make him keep his head down. This point was non-negotiable. Speed up, slow down, even look to the side, I don’t care, but the head’s gotta be down. No ears in my face, no dropping his back out from under me. Head down, forward motion, at the gait I choose. It took a good 20 minutes before he got the point. Just go with the head down.
Then I went large, and made four ten meter circles along the long side, one in each corner, and one in the middle of the short side. So lots of ten meter circles. But the message was the same. Head down, moving forward.
By the end of the ride he got it. He was even making steady, light, consistent contact with my hand. Now we just need to repeat it. Every day, for like, ever.
He is certainly better after the Tildren. In fact, he’s so much better that today he almost, for the first time since he was four, bucked me off. And not in a fit of anger or stupidity. He just felt so good cantering down the long side that he struck out with a foreleg, tucked his butt under and scooted, then threw his head down and bucked twice.
Now, I’m still riding him very carefully in a bridle and bareback pad. So he really almost unseated me. He had me grabbing mane and yelling "Hey, hey HEEEYY!!" Afterwards it was kinds funny, but for a moment I thought I was going to be brushing arena dirt off my butt. We’re only up to 20 minutes total, walk trot and canter, and it’s looking like two things can now happen. One, I can add another 5 minutes, and two, it’s time for the saddle.
Still, even though he wants to go and in general feels good, he still is a bit uneven, like he’s still protecting that left front. I asked the barn owner today to watch him go, and he said that it looked to him that he was hesitant about taking that left front off of the ground. So I’m not sure what that means. He suggested giving him bute for three days and then he’d watch again to see if there was any change.
I get the feeling that it’s higher up, like in his shoulder. I've been doing shoulder stretches with him every time before I ride, and he is a little crabby about the left shoulder. I think I need to have the chiropractor take a look at him.
Back to his feet, though - Kaswyn is now barefoot. Before I pulled his shoes, this is what the left front looked like after 7 weeks of growth.
And this is the right front.
Obviously he grows two totally different feet. My blacksmith said that as soon as he’s reset his feet start to get uneven again, since on one foot he grows a lot of toe and the other he grows a lot of heel. So I've been thinking that I should keep him barefoot and have him trimmed more often, like every 5 weeks. Which is something I wouldn't really have been able to do with shoes on.
Here is the left front, barefoot, after the shoes came off.
And the right front.
So I will just have to wait and see how the saddle, chiropractor, and barefoot thing goes. In the meantime, Mr. Hyper McBuckypants needs to try to contain his joy so that I don't eat dirt.