Friday, April 27, 2012

Lesson Day: Sunny, Buddy, and best laid plans...


So much for my plans to test the show-ring waters with the boys on Saturday.  Yesterday's lesson with Sunny wasn't exactly a fail so much as a head-scratcher.  After perfectly normal-for Sunny walk-trot work in both directions, Eric had me ask for a left-lead canter departure.  And that's where things started to get sticky. 

Sunny, like most horses, goes more easily in one direction.  But he'll usually take the correct lead when queued without too much drama.  Not yesterday, at least not going left.  I worked and worked and worked, and no matter how well I had him set up, he'd just torque his whole body around until he could get his right shoulder forward.  Out of probably 35 attempts, I got him to take the correct lead a grand total of twice.

Once he was finally in it, he held it easily enough with no apparent bobbles, without breaking and without protest. 

After the second correct effort, Eric had me switch directions and go right - he took that lead easily enough, but kept craning his head to the outside, and he stumbled a couple of times.  Something just didn't feel quite right, although he still didn't seem to be actually favoring anything. 

I'd had the same issue with canter left on Tuesday when I rode - I blamed it on rider error then, because canter departures are still something I struggle with, and the ground is pretty uneven.   But after having me walk and then trot him again in both directions, Eric had me get off, and he tried canter left  to see if he could feel where the problem was any better from on top.  No luck, but Sunny did exactly the same thing with him to the left that he did with me, which definitively rules out rider error.

Eric flexed him and then had me trot him off, but Sunny trotted off square after that, too.  Whatever we poked, pushed, prodded and manipulated, nothing seemed to bother him, but something is definitely wrong.  This just didn't feel like naughty-horse attitude.  So... we won't be showing on Saturday. 

Eric suggested just doing the schooling walk-trot if I still wanted to take him, but given the footing which I know is really deep, the weather, which is crumby, and the two hour trailer ride... no sense pushing things.  There will be other shows.

Sunny has an appointment at the vet on Tuesday to see if they can determine what/where the problem is, and if they don't find anything specific, I may make an appointment with the chiropractor.  Since Sunny's happy enough running and playing in the pasture, and nothing's sore, warm, swollen or otherwise visibly wrong, he'll get a couple of (more) days completely off until the vet visit, and we'll see what happens. 


After that debacle, it was Buddy's turn.  He nickered at me, flipped his mane and snuffled me with every appearance of being pleased to see me, stuffing his nose readily into his halter.  His new front shoes rang on the concrete barn floor like a regular-sized horse's instead of the Clydesdale he sounded like before - much better! 

I didn't rush grooming, even though he was pretty much clean barring a few flecks of sawdust.  He earned a bit of fussing this past weekend, and he enjoys it so thoroughly, it's hard to resist spending an extra few minutes. 

Tacked and on board, Eric had me working on rate since that's were I had the most issues at last weekend's show.  The familiarity of home is less distracting, but with Buddy rested and refreshed, there was still no shortage of forward to work with.  Slowing him down and then maintaining speed until told to change was just as challenging as usual, but he's holding frame and collection on his own for longer.  I love that light, floaty feeling when he's carrying himself

In the smaller indoor my tendency to let my outside leg drift forward was, as always, more pronounced, but to my great relief canter transitions in both directions were smooth.  It was a good lesson, not least because with back to back rides it was easy to tell where I'm inconsistent, and where I need to be quicker to adjust to each horse's particular quirks and personality.

And that was my ride time for this week.  I'll still go to the show tomorrow and be moral support and an extra pair of hands.  Eric's only taking five horses, so I'm guessing things will be a lot lower key. Definitely less stressful for me, that's for sure!

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