Thursday, December 4, 2014

A bit of stiffness

I rode Tango late last night (rather briefly, so it makes for an uninteresting ride). He came out kind of short off his left hind. I could feel a little hitch and roll over it rather than the nice powerful strides I usually get from him. I hopped off and felt for heat or swellings, but it felt totally fine. So did the other legs. I walked him for a while and then once we picked up the trot after the third circle or so he felt totally normal.

It did ratchet my heartrate up a little though. He's been 100% sound the time I've had him so I'm hoping very much that this moment was just regular "I'm a big horse and I've been trapped in a little stall for a week" stiffness.

Once we got to working out I did some work on his walk pirouettes. He's getting quite sensitive to them so I can really focus on the correct bend and keeping the hindquarters from just dying out underneath me. It's feeling good.

Then we did some trot-lengthen-slow trot-halt practice. This is particularly difficult for Tango because when you lengthen the trot, most of the time his hind steps further under and powers himself along, but every so often he says "CARRY ME!", falls on his forehand, and plows along. It suddenly because imperative that we halt, rein back, and trot on again. I don't like to scold him too much for it, but it's also like listen dude, you pitch a fit if I take what you consider to be "too strong a contact". I'll respect you if you don't yank my arms out of my shoulders.

Once I'd successfully moved in and out of good lengthenings in each direction I started playing with shoulders-in to shoulders-out to straight again on the circle. He definitely thought I wanted shoulders-in to awkwardly counterbent. When I reminded him that we'd just spent a few minutes playing with his shoulder mobility he immediately decided that we were just changing direction, f*** path of travel.

He figured it out in the end. Shoulders in, straight, shoulders out. All while keeping the hindquarters relatively on the circle. I was pretty pleased with him. I also love the expression he gets when he's thinking really hard about organizing himself. His ears go all loppy like a donkey's and his whole rhythm changes. It sort of stretches out and has a very different cadence. And I always know when he's decided he understands, because we resume our normal, brisk rhythm.

I keep daydreaming about getting him over his fear of jumping well enough to event him. And then I remind myself that he is sort of terrified of the outdoors despite lots of attempted trail rides, and decide he's plenty happy as a dressage pony.


  1. glad he worked out of the stiffness. he sounds like a great thinker - too bad jumping and the outdoors are a little overwhelming for him. maybe one day?

    1. Well there was a day not too long ago where he'd take one look at a pole, SLAM on the brakes, and snort loudly. A pole! Silly goose. Now he does cavaletti and trot poles quite nicely, so I'm thinking there's some hope.

  2. I have a pony who would like to be a dressage princess too! She's maturing as she ages so I'm hoping reintroducing jumps one day might not be out of the question. Good luck, although he sounds like he's a good dressage boy and that counts for a lot too :)

    1. Ahh ponies, with their long memories, evil bendability, and silly senses of self. Tango's a pretty good boy and I'm happy with how far he's come. Zero brakes or canter to showing 1st level to confidently schooling 2nd level in about four months. He had the strength and basics, he just had to learn to chill out a bit.