Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sweet Freedom! (of movement)

I’ve been fiddling with my saddle pads to make sure I have the best fit on the Psycho Mare. Since her massage, I’ve been doing lots of lunging (even more than we had been) and when I get into the saddle, I have only been working walk and trot (no canter). The idea has been for her to rediscover the fluid movement and balance that she naturally has at the canter.

Last night, she was a rock star! I’ve been throwing lots of poles on the ground and the occasional x-rail to lunge over in order to keep things interesting. Mind-numbing circles are useless, so I strive to keep our lunge work goal oriented and actively focused. Watching this girl canter over the jumps was encouraging! She didn’t rush the poles or the jumps. She was striding nicely and had stopped offering lead changes to the left. In fact, at one point, she was tracking right and picked up the left lead (she had been avoiding the left lead like the plague!). She promptly fixed her lead and calmly took the jump. She looked like a big horse!

Do you know what I mean by that?

Like a big kid!
She didn’t appear quick. There was a sitting and a lifting of her shoulders every time she took the jump. It was just-another-canter-stride. In the trot, there was no discontinuity (when you see the distinct trot in – jump – trot out). It was one fluid string of movement. She was seeking the jump out on her own!

Sometimes, she came into one of the poles at an awkward distance. She just put her feet down and kept on moving. Maybe she had a back foot on one side and the other three on the other side. I know for one, she had one front on the far side while the other three were on the near side. Most of the time, she nailed it, but when she didn’t, there was no fuss or lookiness or anything. She just cantered.

Her back started swinging! At no point on this entire journey have I seen her back swinging at the canter!!

I wanted to ride this canter! I was trying out a different saddle, just in case it fit better. It didn’t. It looked great, but it turned out to be awful. For me, anyway. I went back to the barn and put my saddle back on her. As soon as I mounted up, I knew it was better! The horse underneath me did not need pushing or driving for every stride. She was ready to move out! When I asked for the canter transition, there was no fussiness or discussion about it; she just stepped into it! I was stunned at how slow and relaxed it was! Don’t get me wrong - it isn’t show-ready. But, it was more canter than I have had to work with in a while. When she lost her balance and fell out of it, she picked herself right back up into it before I could prod her about it! She still wanted to fall on her forehand, but I could still feel more reach in her back end. In fact, even when I just wanted to work on canter, Psycho Mare was really coming forward and asking to make a canter transition! There is so much less tension in my horse! I feel like I have to figure out how to ride her all over again (and I am beyond OK with that).

I know there is still some pain. I know there is still a knot. I can feel it. I can see it. When I first begin to work on it, she wants to kick me! However, within minutes, she is leaning into my curry and her upper lip turns into a finger.
I think we are back on track, folks!



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