Friday, November 21, 2008

Stiff as a Board

It was 22 degrees when I headed to the indoor.  I clipped Brego in an abbreviated chase clip, down his neck and his chest, but not his belly or even back as far as his girth.  He sweats so much when he works, I worry about him getting a chill even though I use coolers, blankets, towels, and curries to help dry him.

He did well.  His personality is 100% back.  Playful, goofy, calm, content.  We worked a lot on keeping our rhythm through lateral work at the walk.  My riding buddy pointed out that he looked really stiff and was not bending, just moving sideways.  I took the time to go back and stretch him, both by the "classical" and "modern" methods.  :)

I like Phillippe Karl's idea about raising the bit so it pulls up against the corners of the mouth instead of down against the gums or the bars.  So on a circle, I will raise my inside hand almost straight up.  This introduces the bend, but also lifts the inside shoulder if Brego happens to be laying on it (because that NEVER happens :)  ).  But I also like the approach my last dressage lesson taught me which is to lower my hand down to my knee, and rotate the hand while gently pulling out, not back.  This bends the head, and for Brego encourages the stretch on the off side.  But be careful with the inside leg because he will collapse on the inside shoulder.

So a little combination of the two approaches and he was stretching down, then lifting up, and stretch left and right, then raise the chest, then back to a low stretch.  I then reattempted the lateral work and he did better.

Before the realization that he was so stiff, I would have said we were back to 80% of his performance before he got kicked.  But now I think he knows 90% as much, but his body is not ready, strength or flexibility, to do it.  Which is a solveable problem.  The important thing is that he is sound and happy about his work.

He did so well that as are going back to hunting on Saturday.  Hilltopping only, but I can't wait.  And I know Brego will be so happy to be back out there.  The highs will be in the mid 20s so I am scrambling to get my gear together.  And my flask.  You know, to help keep me warm.


allhorsestuff said...

Yes..must have that flask!
Thanks for sharing about the shoulder/bending exercises. I will try those when I return to the arena. Still catching nice weather for trails ans such~

Melissa said...

Those bending exersizes sound really good. I will definitely try those on some of my percherons.