Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shifting Gears

When I finally got to the barn yesterday (don't worry, in spite of my prolonged absence I managed to remember the way there), I found this:
 A sad, wet, soggy face.

But I was pretty excited about the fact that it was a sad, wet, soggy face that I could see in the daylight.  BAH, daylight! SO thrilling.  P's dour expression of "I hate Seattle weather" didn't put a damper on my excitement to tack up, ride, and COOL OUT all under the big shining bulb in the sky (well.. filtered through a rather extensive veil of clouds.. but let's not get greedy).

Anyway, I was thankful that the BO let the mare get her wiggles out while I was gone, because Pia was managing to remain fairly calm and didn't hint at any mare-wolf lurking beneath the surface while we tacked up.

Fun note- while we were grooming, one of the gals in the barn (who has an ADORABLE upper level boy) was chatting with me and said "oh my gosh your horse is SOOOOOO athletic!"

Now, I am fully aware of P's athleticism, mostly from all of her exceptionally gifted airs above ground, but our working trot doesn't exactly hint at this fact (and neither does P's passive standing around in her paddock).

She continued, "OMG, yesterday, in her paddock, I saw her do a buck pirouette!"

Apparently, from a standstill the mare managed to leap, buck, and do an about face while landing in the same spot.

I tried to explain that I was less "excited" about her "abilities" since the only times I seem to experience them include a string of expletives and an attempt to make it past the 8 second rodeo standard...

Anyway, we tacked up, headed to the ring and started our lunging.  Even though P was relaxed and attentive, I extended our time to about a total of 15 minutes with the clear reminder that she had 10 days off from riding and a few extra circles wouldn't hurt.  I was however, pretty impressed that given the time off, P's ears were soft, her canter was balanced and even, and she was mostly focused on me the entire time. (progress??)

I hopped on, dealt with the initial stickiness (grrr), but we popped into the trot quickly with a surprising lack of tension given Pia's short sabbatical. 

She was forward for sure and had a bit of tension in her neck, but she wasn't racing around and she didn't have the distinctive "powder keg" feeling that often accompanies our first rides back.  

We cantered early and without any bucks, kicks or issues (yay!).  P's right lead still feels weird to me, almost like her right hind is paddling out to the side.  So, I spent 5 minutes cantering the mare up the centerline and inspecting our reflection.  She was pin straight, and I couldn't see anything bizarre going on.  I'm chalking it up to the bodywork, but still being a bit wary.  She doesn't feel off, and it doesn't feel like the 'disconnect' I used to feel from the wobblers.. so I'm at a bit of a loss.

Trot work was good for the first 20 minutes.  She stayed forward and after bout 10 minutes was nicely moving off my leg for changes in bend and staying fairly supple by our standards.  We were still tipped a bit on our forehand, but not terribly, and she did a nice job of balancing and lifting when I asked for some lengthenings. 

I wrapped up with some trot/halt/trot transitions with a focus on maintaining as stretched out a frame through the transition as possible, and making the mare stand and relax for about 30 seconds every time.  P's mental fuel tank ran out after about 6 transitions and I felt her whole body tense as her ears locked on the barn for dinner.  We managed a bit more stretchy trot before we called it a day and cooled out.

All in all, a pretty great ride considering the time off.  We'll see what I've got in store today...


  1. Glad the mare was sweet for you after her long time off. Sometimes I think they actually enjoy that first ride back, like they forget it's work or something lol. Then its that 2nd ride where they're sore from the day before and they're like " thought I was retired??" ohhhh mares!

  2. Maybe the right hind is actually better after all the body/farrier work, but it feels weird to you now because you're used to it being wonky??

    Congrats on a great ride!

  3. Hooray for a good ride!

    And I don't envy you those buck pirouettes one jot. Enjoy!

  4. Yay for good rides and sweet mares! Hope she stays that way for you!

  5. Yay! Congrats on the great ride! Maybe the "off" gait is actually her correct gaits and you're just not used to it. Often times we compensate for imbalances in horse or tack and don't even realize it. Have you ever caught yourself sitting crooked due to uneven stirrups or a slipped saddle? That's the only thing I could think of. I'd just be happy she's sound and comfortable. It will feel "normal" to you in no time. :)


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