Monday, October 19, 2009

In Medias Res

"In the middle of things"

First of all...yippy skippy, it is finally Fall! Friday was swelteringly hot, but by Saturday the winds had picked up and swept all the horrid heat gloriously away. It was absolutely gorgeous -- all brisk and blustery and crisp and grey skies. I was so excited that I would actually be able to ride without melting into a puddle of sweat. Yay!

Imagining a lovely ride, I marched out to the barn and dragged all of my tack out to the wash rack. It was windy and cool and completely perfect riding weather. I had to restrain myself from actually skipping with joy as I headed to Salem's stall. I just knew that we would build on our previous day's ride (more on that later) and, of course, end the day with perfect canter pirouettes and side-passes. (*snort*)

So, you can imagine my surprise when I was greeted not by Mr. Cool-as-a-Cucumber but by Mr. Wild-Eyed Snorty McPrance-yPants. He was covered in dried sweat and shavings (which had crusted together to form a very interesting tiger-stripe pattern) and his stall was completely torn apart. Obviously, he had spent quite a bit of time rolling. Jennie also later told me that he had been spinning around in his stall like a reining horse. Great.

Of course, my first concern was colic. The temperature had dropped about twenty degrees overnight and the humidity had decreased significantly -- clearly, such a huge climate change could upset his stomach. A quick check of his stall revealed that he had eaten all of his grain and most of his hay, so I took Salem out to graze. He immediately shoved his face into the grass and began munching. I felt a bit better, but decided that we would obviously take the day off from riding. The canter pirouettes would have to wait for another day.

Sunday, I came out a bit earlier in hopes that Snorty McPrance-yPants would be a bit calmer. He had been an absolute pill the previous night when I had been grooming him in his stall and I was beginning to worry that this weather had brought out an alternate personality. Deciding to play it safe, I took him out for a longeing session.

Obviously, Salem had to prove me wrong and be an absolute saint. Yes, he was pretty wired at first and was rubber-necking at the pretty mares turned out in the pasture next door, but that's to be expected. We did a lot of work on transitions and even worked a bunch of trot poles into the mix. The first trot pole, Salem came at it all wide-eyed and snorty, picked up the canter two strides out, and leaped over it like it was a giant ditch, knees tucked up to his eyeballs. What a show-off.

Rewind to Friday. I wish I had pictures because Heather and I are apparently psychically connected and arrived wearing Tailored Sportsmans and navy blue polo shirts. Of course, we both ride dark bay geldings with stars, and we dressed them both in white baby pads and baby blue polos on the front legs. Yes, we are twelve.

Salem was such a good boy. I have, for the most part, fixed my retarded hands and that is helping things immensely. The big lad has a tendency to bulge to the outside going left, and Heather explained to me that I needed to "build a wall" with my outside aids in order to prevent that. At first, it seemed a little odd to me...shouldn't I pull the left rein? Nope, of course she was totally correct. I used right rein and right leg and the problem was solved. :-)

It was also the First Day With Draw Reins for Salem, and he did very well (of course). I didn't tighten them too much, as I just wanted him to get a feel for them. We had a few moments every now and again at the trot where everything came together and felt completely lovely. Of course, those moments don't last long, but they show us what we need to work towards. Our canter departures were somewhat lacking, but I'm just gonna say it was because of the draw reins. That sounds like a feasible excuse, right? ;-)

Fast forward to today (see why this post is In Medias Res?). I rode without the draw reins and really focused on straightness and not allowing Salem to do The Snake. We mostly worked in the small arena to minimize distractons; plus, it also meant that we could do a lot of work over the trot poles. I want to do as much as I can to strengthen up Salem's core, and trot poles are one of the best ways to do this. Too bad we don't have hills here, as those are supposed to be the best thing for developing not only back and ab muscles but also the hindquarters. Oh, well...we'll just have to do lots of transitions, trot poles, and longeing in vienna reins. Our canter departures were much better today...not perfect, but certainly an improvement. I'll take it!

Today was also the day that my Practical Horseman arrived and, of course, the first thing I read was Jim Wofford's article. He always has multiple gems of wisdom to dispense, and this month was no exception. The article was about conditioning a horse for a Classic-format three day event. I found it very interesting that he said, "walk for muscle, trot for balance and canter for wind." It never would have occurred to me that walking would build muscle more than the other gaits. I've always been a big proponent of long warm-ups and cool-downs, and now I have an even better reason to incorporate lots of walking into our routine.

OK, enough blithering. On to the pics:

We're gonna have to start calling him Scarface

And Scar-leg? Thankfully, this is not deep; but, I honestly do no not know how he is getting so banged-up. Either he gets into fights with his stall or the fence or his neighbors (or possibly all three). Clearly, he never wins.

Shiny Pony!

And now on to the Creepy Night-time Flash-photography Pics of Salem (hey, it is almost Halloween):

Actually, it's extremely difficult to get a picture of him in the paddock because he is always walking up to me. So, I get a lot of pics like these:

Tomorrow, I'll see if I can wrangle someone into taking riding pics of us. I also want to get some side-view shots of Salem as a Before so I can take some Afters in a few months and see how much his muscling has changed.


eventer79 said...

I personally am a big fan of the "wall of aids." It's been a great image for me in the past to keep my horse from the Deadly Drift.

jennie bang said...

i love the pic of Salem's sign....'The Witching Hours'....great show name!

Frizzle said...

Solo, yes, it's an awesome visual and has helped me tremendously.
I LOVE being at a barn with friendly, knowledgable people who are willing to help!