As I mentioned in my last post, my friend A (the one who lives in NJ, not the local one) was coming to town for a visit on her way to her home to see her family. Generally I get to see her for a few hours before she heads to TN, but this time I was in for a special treat because her parents were working Wednesday and Thursday (I was supposed to be as well, but an occasion such as this calls to use some of that hard earned PTO), so she opted to stay with me until Friday morning.
This was especially appreciated since a) I have the new dressage saddle that I wanted her take on, and b) I wanted her eyes to help me with Copper’s NQR gimpy trot. On both of these points, she had good news.
First of all, we determined that not only was my dressage saddle a good buy, but it was a good fit for me and Copper at this point. 🙂 As his topline develops we’ll need less of a half pad, but the saddle fits fine currently and frees up his massive shoulders well/doesn’t rock/bridge/etc. She rode him in it after I rode on Wednesday night and decided that she liked it despite the fact that it lacks the big blocks that she enjoys on her Prestige.
The other thing I wanted her opinion on was his soundness at the trot. I rode him the Thursday after chiro, and he was fine, but on the following Monday, he was very off when I started to trot him. I swung off, checked his feet, lunged him around and couldn’t find anything glaringly obvious about it. He ended up working out of it fine, and I continued my ride. When she watched me ride on Wednesday, he was off at the trot again, and once again worked out of it. He cantered off fine for me, then again for A when she rode him. We’ve basically determined that since his hips were adjusted, he’s using himself correctly for the first time in a while (I really wish I knew how long…) and its putting strain on the recently unused correct muscles. Why it is dramatically worse when I post on the right diagonal, I’m not sure. So I’m going to keep an eye on it as his fitness develops and see how things go.
The good thing about having A come visit is that she’s very easy to coerce into taking pictures for me, so I have new media that I’ll use to death until she visits again. 😉 ALSO, she’s not afraid to push the moose to work harder than he wants to. When she rode him, she reined him in when she asked him to canter and really asked him to lift and use himself. Copper has a history of bucking at canter transitions, so we weren’t surprised when he swished his tail aggressively and shook his head. We were ever so pleasantly surprised when he picked up and did what she asked without further drama. We were even more impressed when he sat back and gave her 4-5 strides of a real collected canter. She grinned and I was trying to find my lower jaw on the ground. I forget how capable and fancy my horse can be when someone rides him to the best of his ability. Of course, I was failing at taking pictures while trying to watch A do correctly the things that she was pushing me to change about my riding.
When I say that she was trying to change my riding, it is because I asked her for a dressage lesson. I would love to start taking real dressage lessons (not that hers are fake, but while they’re free to me, 2x a year doesn’t really cut it). Basically I need to work on keeping Copper moving forward without being zoomy and keeping my reins even/short and my fingers closed around them. Oh, and my thumbs up. And I need to not do the weird twisty thing with my inside leg to move him over (basically I need to actually put my spurs on instead of trying to poke him with the heel of my boot). And once I do all of this, I need to massage my inside rein to get him bending around our circle nicely. So you know, just a few dozen new things to work on. Which is good! We need things to work on other than just asking him to carry me around quietly without bucking.
I’m so pleased with how adjustable he is. A lot of horses would be miffed going from a draped rein for western pleasure type training to a lot of contact with their mouth and being asked to come up and round, but he’s trying without any frustration. He really is the smartest thing I’ve ever sat on. Which poses a problem for some things, but we’re working through them. More on that in my next post. 😉