Realistically, Pia got some brand new shoes. and I got a brand new vest...
So today's recap feels like I could type it from two totally different perspectives (the cliche shoulder angel/devil scenario comes to mind). So I'm going to try to convey both of my thought processes without sounding like a totally incoherent, rambling fool. :)
First order of business: Presents!!
Today, Pia got new shoes. I hope she feels as pretty and fancy as I do when I get a pretty new pair of shoes, but I can't be certain. I trust the barn's farrier implicitly. Whenever he was out while P was barefoot, he was always kind enough (and interested) enough to take a look at her feet and give me his opinion. He respects barefoot, likes it on horses who maintain it well, but (as most farriers do) he ultimately saw shoes as the simplest solution for P's funny feet. Unlike other opinions that I got, he never acted arrogantly, or proclaimed that the only way to even her out would be to take drastic chunks of hoof away. So for that, he earned a bit of trust.
So why would I put shoes back on? I recognize that this is a somewhat touchy subject for a number of people, but the honest answer is that for this horse, in this moment, I felt that it was the most responsible thing.
P's hind feet were starting to wear somewhat extremely, and her heels were super low. The shape of her hind feet was starting to "bulge" and while I don't claim a serious understanding of horsey hoof mechanics, it looked all sorts of wrong. Also, I think it's possible that she's a bit tender so I figure while I'm on this crusade of trying to control every controllable in this mare's life, this was one switch I hadn't flipped.
So, I feel good because I think that it's possible her uneven wear and weird bulging hind hooves could have been adding discomfort. I feel bad because hooves don't just magically wear strangely... they do whatever the leg above them does. So I hope that I'm not just pushing a problem "up the line." Only time will tell...
Time for my present...
I got..... a Point Two Air Jacket!!!! This might lead most people to think that I've secretly been training my upper level event horse and not blogging about it, but no.
Sadly, I have not. The Point Two is simply a security blanket for me, and a requirement from Daddy-Dearest so that he doesn't secretly kidnap P in the night and hide her someplace I won't be able to ride her. He's gotten much more protective of my riding even since I moved on from Star the Wonder Pony (15 years ago..) who literally twisted in mid air to stay under you.. In fact, he's pretty much convinced that every other horse is a death trap, so P's recent antics have not exactly helped to dispel that myth.
On to our ride yesterday... (more shoulder angel/devil action).
I figured that since the mare was ridden Sunday, lunged Monday, and ridden Tuesday AND Wednesday, I could attempt a ride without Ace. I don't like it as a crutch, and realistically, the mare had no excise for antics given her schedule... so I lunged briefly, and hopped on.
Then I hopped off.
She was a bit of a firecracker. I walked for about 20 meters, then went up to our trot and she felt like she was about to explode in about 40 million directions. My panic trigger started wiggling and I got all sorts of freaked out. I slowed her down to a walk again and felt her back/legs/neck coil for some sort of badness. That's when I turned her around, trotted back to the BO and stuck her with .6cc of Ace again.
UGH, fail. I can honestly tell you that I am not sure if Pia really was acting differently without the Ace or if my brain is simply playing tricks on me. Realistically, .6cc of Ace is a pretty little dose. She doesn't get heavy with it, or dopey, in fact, she's still pretty capable of anything she wants when she's on it... so I can't really tell how much of an effect I'm getting out of it aside from my mental piece of mind.
Regardless of the impact, I got back on and immediately got to work. Increase/Decrease, loops, serpentines, all the usual tricks. She seemed pretty good, and on the relative "sticky" factor, we had a decent day. Pia did get stuck twice, but I whirled her in a circle and kicked/smacked which was enough to get her forward forward. We did a couple circle/leg yields and they went better than Wednesday. Our canter work was mediocre, but showed the most obvious improvement during the ride. P was pulling her "I don't want to canter I just want to trot FASTER" crap, which makes me angry. So, even though she was still going forward, I tried the circle/kick/smack routine then asked for my canter again and VOILA. Magic nice canter transition. I did a few quick transitions up and down, which went swimmingly after our circle/kick/whap discussion.
So, I felt really good. I felt like I was getting through to the mare and that I was getting more and more comfortable reacting quicker to her objections and nipping them in the bud. I think that I need to reduce the number of "sticky" exercises (turn on the haunches, leg yields, etc) until she's even more consistently forward, but all in all I really feel like I came out on top.
Once again, I was exhausted when I got off, but I felt less defeated... so that has to be a win of some sort.
However, as I was untacking and my brain was processing the ride, I got a little less "happy" about it and started down the path of considering how much of this fight will realistically improve over the long term. The BO is very complimentary of my riding and impressed at how well I've "stepped up" and really ridden the mare, but she's leery that this isn't sustainable for me in the long term. I don't want other people's opinions to influence me (too much), but she does raise a good point.
I spend a lot of time and a lot of money on my horses (well, just the one right now) and at some point driving through the rain after work to go to war every day is not exactly a spiritually relaxing endeavour. :)
Mostly I'm playing devil's advocate with that line of thinking.. but still. This phase is hard. It's hard to feel like I'm confronting my mare on EVERY little thing, and not ever really learning or moving forward. Looking back, I feel like we have had lots of "positive" rides, but realistically we're worse off (in terms of progress and consistency) than we were 10 months ago when I first got Pia. So that's a little frustrating.
So, like I said. Yesterday day was a day of ups and downs. My brain often works too hard, and I end up with waaaay more interpretations of a situation than I care to have. I'd sorta prefer to either be elated or extremely frustrated. At least that would offer a little more clarity!
OH, one more thing that was slightly upsetting... When I was currying Miss P after our ride she was super-duper-sore on her left lumbar area. She's never been backsore, and I poke and prod her on a regular basis... so that was really odd. If she's still sore today, she gets the day off. We did a lot of big half halts and "sits" yesterday.. so maybe she tweaked something. who knows. Oh Mare.
In the mean time - We ride. :) I'm out there tonight, tomorrow, and Supermom is joining me again Sunday. With us luck!