April 7, 2012 2 Comments
After a few really nice rides, we had an extremely crappy lesson on Thursday. Derby was dead and behind my leg, and was resistant, going around giraffe-necked and bracing. I had gone over him with a fine toothed comb prior to saddling, and hadn’t found any soreness, and indeed, his resistance wasn’t the sort of emphatic “get off me now or I’ll see that you do” resistance one encounters when riding a really back-sore horse. It was more along the lines of “Don’t wanna.”
Christy suggested I canter him to wake him up, and while the canters were OK (decent quality, decent tempo, fairly prompt transitions) he still didn’t offer any really good gaits. So, because he didn’t offer, I had to ask – nay, insist. I had to really ride.
It was really tough to get him to stretch into contact and relax. Christy had me work the stretch, which resulted in only achieving a barely passable working trot, but at least his back came up and he rounded.
All in all, it was a tough and unsatisfying ride, despite the fact we only worked for about 40 minutes, and didn’t work terribly hard. The culprit, we know, is fitness. So Derby bought himself an additional ride on Friday. I don’t normally ride on Fridays, and was in fact taking Good Friday off, but I juggled my schedule and got out to the barn mid-morning.
My plan was to primarily do a lot of trot work, with a bit of canter thrown in, and the ride went according to plan. Derby felt really good, I had my nice forward horse again, so I took advantage of it, working on adjusting the trot from a smaller (but still round) gait on the short ends to the big, pushing trot down the long sides. While Derby was still a hair resistant and I had to really stay on top of him to get the roundness I wanted, he was listening to my halt halts and we motored strongly through some circles, serpentines and diagonals.
We did to a little canter work, but I made the decision to focus mostly on staying moving for a longer duration of time, and trotting is the way to build good top line.
I was also very happy with the quality of walk I had when we were taking breaks. He was focused and forward, marching strongly, with a nice swingy back.
At the end of the ride, I couldn’t resist the sunny day, so I dismounted, grabbed my jacket (it was cool and breezy despite the sun) and we cooled out in the outdoor. I did some lateral work, spiraling in and out on a circle, and doing shoulder-in both directions before letting him stretch and free walk around. We ended schooling some walk-halts. I was very, very pleased with the ride on Friday.
Derby gets the next couple days off. On Friday afternoon, he got his spring shots, and we always rest the horses the day after vaccinations, because they sometimes feel a little icky afterward as they adjust to the vaccine, just as we do when we get flu shots. Sunday is Easter, and I have family visiting, so I’ll be skipping the barn that day, too. It’s supposed to be very pleasant this weekend, so hopefully Derby and his pasture mate Remy will spend most of the weekend snoozing in the sun, resting up for next week’s work!